On Not Screaming

Eloisa Amezcua


I told you
to be quiet,
he said,
is to love
me enough
to let me in—


I imagine
this is what
a man says
to the child
he’s going
to take if he’s
in the business
of taking children.


If a man had
tried to take me
as a child
he wouldn’t
know that
I don’t know
how to scream,
haven’t heard
what sound
would come out
if I tried.


Once a man
ripped a dollar
from my hand
at a carnival.
It was my toll
for the caterpillar
ride. I could see
he looked sad
and hungry and he
told me Shhh
as he walked away.
I didn’t tell
my sister till we
got in line.
She told me
not to tell
Mom or Dad.
They’d worry,
and I was fine
with being quiet.


This is how I was
taught to love:
to silence yourself
is to let the other in.