The Daughter Who Speaks In Toads

The Daughter Who Speaks In Toads

by Rachel Bunting

I am learning not to speak, use my hands instead
to say the simplest things, good morning now

an open palm, fingers extended like a rising sun.
Even so, they are still forming behind my tongue:

a bolus of tiny toadpoles sliding around
my tonsils. The taste is bitter, rotting skin

sloughed away to stick between my teeth.
After a week of silence I can feel the warts

growing on the back of my throat, small hard
tumors crusted over. Preparing lunch, I slice

my finger and cannot contain it—a single
curse and the tumors split, a thousand small

bodies tumble out, fill my cheeks to bursting
before I spit them out, a mouthful of poison.

My mother waves me alone into the forest:
she cannot stand the consequence of my voice

so I am going now to make a new home, to fill
the woods with the sound of a million singing toads.

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