The Book of Silence

by Rasheed Copeland

We learned
from the book
of our fathers’ silence
how to speak
of young girls
in the way
old white men
speak of game
they’ve hunted
and mounted
on trophy walls.
The same book
that taught us
how to make
young girls
fake orgasms
and mourn their lost
virginities
while handling
little boy pride
with the delicacy
it requires.

This book,
void of chapters
on love,
on how to listen
to her skin’s soliloquy,
and on how to treat such
sacred treaty
of body and soul
less like a pillaging
and more like a litany
worth protecting,
is the book
from which I learned
how to both
break and be broken
without even knowing.


“The Book of Silence” previously appeared in Split this Rock.

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