“What the Mountains Are Silent About” by Matty Layne Glasgow

Matty Layne Glasgow


In Chechnya, you can watch the Greater
Caucasus Mountains rise queerly along
the southern border, like a man newly gone
from this place—disappeared for wanting
wrongly. Some might say his wings are snowcapped
peaks, but I don’t believe in angels
or heaven, so I wonder if those mountains
aren’t just piles of ash. And if they could
speak to us, would it be in a low whistle
that shivers pine needles like limbs bound
and trembling from the electrical current
pulsing through them? Would they scream,
the kind that musters all its breath from
the tenderized flesh of a violet bruise or
the space where bone fractures into sharp
shards of what once held his body together?
Listen. You can hear his pained cry in your
own closeted dreams. You know the weight
of these mountains, you’ve always been here
holding your truth deep within like a flesh of
Paleogene rock because if you made a sound,
they’d come for you, they’d make you crumble.

Poets Respond
April 23, 2017

[download audio]


Matty Layne Glasgow: “I’ve been particularly drawn to themes of queer ecology lately in my writing, and I keep imagining the Caucasus Mountains as embodiments or reincarnations or memorials for all of the gay men beaten and killed in their shadows of that mountain chain in Chechnya. In a New York Times article this week, Andrew E. Kramer described one of the online forums gay men in Chechnya must use to communicate with one another as ‘What the Mountains Are Silence About.’ As the torture and murder of these men continues, I’ve thought about these myriad silences—the silence of being closeted, the silence of being disappeared, the silence of the world as it watches this pogrom unfold. I feel the rock within me quake, the strength we are supposed to have just crumbles.” (website)

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