Without Speaking – Eliana Swerdlow

tell me, where we can find the water
to wash off these bruises
crowding our bodies

without having touched
one another.

I didn’t know I had them,
these memories of you,

until I met you again—yesterday,
in this ordinary place,

a field without trees, only shrubs.

This place where you lifted your shirt
to hold it under your chin

then traced the bruise running
up and down your side.

When you asked me to lift my shirt
to see if I had the same bruise,

I did not look down.

I knew by your face it was there,
and when you asked
if you could touch it,

I did not know what to say.

Today, I remember you taking my silence
as a no, and dropping your shirt
back to your waist.

Since you left, I’ve been unable
to leave this place. I feel the fingers
that did not touch this bruise,

and each day, I am learning how to find beauty
in the way the bruises change

from yellow to blue to purple to nothing.

E Swerdlow

As an undergraduate at Yale University, Eliana Swerdlow is a Human Rights scholar studying English. In New Haven, she’s an editor for the street publication Elm City Echo. Her work has appeared previously in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and she has poems forthcoming in The Gordon Square Review, White Wall Review, and Yale Literary Magazine.