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“'If this were the beginning of a poem, he would have called the thing he felt inside him the silence of snow.' -Orhan Pamuk Before the hanging cross, the girls take turns standing at attention before us with eyes closed or hands clasped, headbands bright green or bangles yellow, glints that fill the silence like falling snow. They recite poems they have carried in their mouths for days, and my desire to go back, to be one among these slender, long-haired girls is a thistle, sharp and twisting at my side. The words psalm, blessing, lord rise in me like bees heavy with pollen, and the teenager I once was unzips herself from me, shows up, a crocus bristling through snow. She’s back in the old chapel where the priest again lifts into the air the Bible, declaims about the kingdom of God, gifts promised only the righteous— the girl I was, heavy and slow in her thick glasses, knew she would never enter heaven, never be these pretty girls singing, arms pale and slim as the white birch whose branches, dappled with gold, shade the stained glass window. In Pamuk’s novel, Snow, the headscarf girls in Eastern Turkey hang themselves rather than go uncovered, and still I want that certainty of conviction, even as the self beside me pulls on her hair, sucks long strands of it deep into her mouth— so I gather her in my arms, shake her, tell her to listen, that the sky will always happen, these branches. Sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, she sings beside these girls who will grow into or away from their bodies, and I know I must push the heavy amber of her back inside me. Help me, Lord. There are so many bodies inside this one.”

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