Collective Hurt – A Poem by Clara Burghelea

Mother with Child – Honore Daumier

Poetry by Clara Burghelea

A girl is raised to crave words
big enough to swallow pain,
invisible whispers to herself.
At first, with her mother’s voice.

Later on, she will pass them
on to a daughter of her own,
a perfect circle of female vocabulary
carved into the flesh,

bound to light up fingertips,
teeth, fists, staring looks
when they cut their way
through the female body.

What if the animal of language
bows to foreign gods
and the girl, now a woman,
never grows a tongue

to register facts and forms
of the two worlds,
the one inside herself
and the man-clad,

barb-wired one around her flesh?
The future keeps backfiring
or so she thinks, when a son
is born out of her still
learning flesh.

When cold air
cracks with winter spells,
the son is old enough
to speak. Yet, the girl-mother
teaches him smiles and touches

for fear words will make
him a ruler of other women,
so she steals his voice
and buries it into her womb

from where the son can first
learn to undo pain,
before he can even call it
by its wordly name.


About the Poet

Clara Burghelea is a Romanian-born English poet. Recipient of the 2018 Robert Muroff Poetry Award, she got her MFA in Creative Writing from Adelphi University. Her poems, fiction and translations have been published in Full of Crow Press, Ambit Magazine, HeadStuff, Waxwing and elsewhere. Her collection “The Flavor of the Other” is scheduled for publication in 2019 with Dos Madres Press.

5 thoughts on “Collective Hurt – A Poem by Clara Burghelea

  1. The randomizer took me to this, which I’ve read before–but it was definitely the poem I needed to see today. Thank you. This is really a wonderful poem–thoughtful and full of terrific (in both senses of the word) imagery.

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