Letter from the Silent City

Here, in the silent city, text is written on the skin of everything:
on the surfaces of roads and buildings; on bridges, pavements
and the walls and dustbins of dark alleyways. Also inside houses:
text covers every piece of furniture, and the fabric of our clothing.
Doors and windows, ceilings, mirrors, carpets, crockery and cutlery—
all have their texts. Trees and grass and flowers are few, but these too
are engraved. There’s no escape. It is the glaze on days and years,
making our existence dreamlike and opaque. This veil frustrates,
and yet it fascinates. We spend our lives attempting to decipher what it says.
The sentences that form the texts are humourless and rambling, although
they are grammatically correct. They contain no punctuation errors or bad
spelling, yet they have no meaning. Because of our incessant reading,  
the city’s all but silent. We have forgotten how to speak. We have secret,
coded texts tattooed upon our faces, backs and thighs and arms. We think
this makes us who we are.  It has been said (rarely, and in whispers)
that if you have the mind to speak a word (your own, unwritten word)  
this sound is embryo. Such a sound has power to create a textless living thing:
a leaf, a bird, a fish, a rose, a baby with unscripted and unblemished skin.
I have not seen this, but have heard (in whispers) that it’s so.

Published in ‘The Broadsheet’ magazine and the anthology ‘Everything That Can Happen: Poems about the Future’ from the Emma Press