Between Languages

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by Jessica Worden

In searching for words, I find a moment I fear. A haltingness that, at its outset, might be interpreted as weakness.

But, it is a pause – a pause that lets the listener listen in on the spaces between speaking.

I think I keep my pauses disguised. A fancy exposed by a friend’s observation that, ‘You sound so much more confident in English’. A friend forgetting that English doesn’t forgive pauses with an insistence like hoor.

But an insistence cannot soothe. It cannot touch you like silence.

I ask – I ask so many times – what the meaning of hoor might be. I hear how it softens an ending. And how it shortens rest between sentences. Hoor doesn’t land on the page or take up space. But still it absorbs liquid silence with the emphatic: hear.

I have just said this, hear –

Have you not heard me, hear?

Never to be written and only to exist in exhalation: hear

making a space for you to feel

                                    reconsider

my building pauses as

                                                           a kindness shared between people

I often wait for my father to finish a sentence. His words are not broken but the structure is split. In the gap that emerges, he might shuffle or stare off in a version of hard-thinking. His pausing space spreads out. Beginnings and endings flatten.

Mistaken for a threat, it’s a gentle spill we share generously.

I anticipate his return and silence glistens on the edges of his resuming rhythm. Talk saturated by his body. Words in the air, still resting in the lungs, not yet formed by the throat and tongue.

Not yet a word but a hesitancy waiting for an exit. [Delay is my gift to you.]

It isn’t a question of holding your tongue. Or holding something in. [There can be love in constraint but this refers to another instance – and not to the pauses between us.]

Words set us apart. Silence joins us.

I extend this moment between us. Pausing stretches against the finitudes of what I say to you and you to me, this soft belly moment both incomplete and sharing

(I hesitate to continue)


Jessica Worden is an artist and writer who works across disciplines, combining poetics, image-based media and sound in publications and live performance. Her work considers how intimacy, vulnerability and softness impact perceptions of precarity, femininity and mental health. As an artist who works primarily with written scores, her work explores how the body undermines conventional forms of knowledge-making through the development of a queered language that relies on the resonances and inarticulacies of a body that experiences desire, pleasure, exhaustion and trauma. Recent publications include ‘Slow veins’ in Syncope in Performing and Visual Arts (2016) and commissioned writing for EROS, Salt and ]performancespace[. She has performed and exhibited in the UK and abroad, most recently at the Dyson Gallery, Deptford X, Galerie 1646 and as part of Spill Festival of Performance: National Platform 2016.

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