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In Translation

By Elizabeth Acevedo

My mouth cannot write you a white flag.
It will never be a Bible verse.
My mouth cannot be shaped into the apology
you say both you and God deserve.

And you want to make it seem
it’s my mouth’s entire fault.
Because it was hungry,
and silent, but what about your mouth:

how your lips are staples
that pierce me quick and hard.

And the words I never say
are better left on my tongue
since they would only have slammed
against the closed door of your back.

Your silence furnishes a dark house.
But even at the risk of burning
the moth always seeks the light.


Note: "In Translation" is excerpted from the soon-to-be-published novel in verse, THE POET X, from Harper Collins.

Added: Thursday, January 25, 2018  /  From" THE POET X" (HarperCollins, 2018). Used with permission.
Elizabeth Acevedo
Photo by Stephanie Ifendu.

Elizabeth Acevedo is the New York Times Bestselling author of The Poet X (Harper Collins, 2018). She holds a BA in Performing Arts from the George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, Puerto Del Sol, Callaloo, and others. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her partner.

Elizabeth Acevedo was a Featured Poet for Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2018. Visit the festival information page for more information.

Other poems by this author