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Her Voice


She used to call me “mama”

before the seizures took over.

She had a series of syllables:

Ba Da Ma Baba Dada Mama.

And when she would call me,

I would say, “yes, Baby?”

She would smile that

Big goofy cheeser smile.

Her seizures took away her voice,

her spirit, and the essence within her.

For two years, all I heard from her

was silence. She didn’t even cry

like a “normal” child, just a whispered wail

of velar and glottal echoes.

I knew then and I know now

she’s fighting inside to emerge.

Yesterday, I heard her voice

once again. Garbled and strained.

She slapped me hard on the back

for my attention as I was reading

aloud about dancing barnyard animals.

“MaaaaaMaa,” she sputtered.

I dropped the book as I watched her

drop, seizing once again.


I held her body and she slept in my arms.

She called me. She felt the earthquake

before it came and called me. In that long

“MaaaaaMaa” that rings still in my ears,

she showed me that she is clawing her way

out, to free Broca and Wernicke

from the electrical storm that

silences her speech.

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