Selective Mutism
(Alison Bennett)

an x-ray image showing a woman's spine with internal metal brace

Image: ‘Volcanic Dynamite’ by Alison Bennett

she is fight or flight
volcanic dynamite
a raging accident that was never
meant to happen

so she begins to swallow her voice into
pretend smiles
her body now a news headline
screaming emergency evacuation alarms through
her skin she is
the property of everybody else
but herself

and by age thirteen
she has muffled all her words under
seventeen surgeries

an x-ray image of a twisted spine

Image: ‘Twisted Column of Angry Bull Ants’ by Alison Bennett

one thousand one hundred and
ninety-five sutures line up on her
bookshelves in place of her
childhood fairy tales

her scoliotic spine is a twisted
column of angry bull ants
aflame with all the sentences
she has
inside her torso

I guess even silence gets
too heavy to carry
after a while… 



Listen to Alison read ‘Selective Mutism’

Alison Bennett is a performance poet/multimedia artist and writer based in Adelaide. The South Australian Poetry Slam Champion for 2016, Alison represented SA at the Sydney Opera House for the National Poetry Slam Final in 2016, and is a two time State Poetry Slam Finalist (2016 and 2017). Alison identifies as disabled and chronically ill. Her work primarily focuses on disability empowerment in the arts, and the societal desire to ‘fix’ the broken self. Her current projects explore the disabled body through soundscape, visual performance, and digital micro-poetry. Find more from Alison on her website.