dVerse Poetics: If These Walls Could Talk

Today Mish is giving the prompt for today’s Poetics at dVerse.  She wants us to write about if these walls could talk:  our homes, a church, school, hospital – anyplace there are walls!  I have chosen to do a fictional piece for this segment.  People often have an image of a seraglio being exotic and full of beautiful women.  Too often, they were places of petty intrigue, the women the man of the house wanted to hide from the world because he no longer desired them, or where the older women died after much neglect.  You can visit dVerse when the Pub opens at 3:00 EST today. http://dversepoets.com/2016/11/01/poetics-if-walls-could-talk/

The Seraglio – ca. 1905
Only a few women were left
aleeping on damp mats,
the smell of rat piss, mold, and attar of roses
Filled the air.
The women were old or no longer desired
By the sultans.
Even the odalisques
had ceased to perform their functions.
The walls had heard and seen it all –
The walls sweated with the petty jealousies
and the opium smoked
and the poor food consumed.
The silk unrolled from the walls in strips
and the women never ever saw the light of day.
The walls wept with their boredom
and their tears and their daily arguments
repeated day after day after day.
The walls listened but could not speak.
The walls unraveled at their nightmares.
The walls saw it all and never ever spoke.

outside of a seraglio, Topkapi Palace - Getty Image

outside of a seraglio, Topkapi Palace – Getty Image

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bryan Ens
    Nov 01, 2016 @ 13:49:06

    So sad when the image presented to the world is one of wonder, but behind the scenes is such devastation of the human soul.


  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Nov 01, 2016 @ 14:08:35

    I can only imagine this… and I guess this was being recreated by the Daesh… the true world of such a prison should be told… Speak up walls.


  3. Mish
    Nov 01, 2016 @ 15:48:22

    A riveting piece, Toni. These walls that have witnessed horrible things were finally able to speak through your words. I was thinking about the contrast of roses vs. rat piss…really sums up the facade.


  4. Sanaa Rizvi
    Nov 01, 2016 @ 16:50:06

    My goodness! You paint such a fierce and cogent picture of those poor souls trapped within the walls. Beautifully executed.

    Lots of love,


  5. ladynyo
    Nov 01, 2016 @ 17:01:47

    Amazing, Toni. This piece is captivating. A real slice of life for abandoned women of the harem. We glamourize the life of the seraglio, but the reality was what you wrote. Sad but true.


  6. Glenn Buttkus
    Nov 01, 2016 @ 17:31:53

    Wow, used. abused, then abandoned–sounds like American voters; grimace. Walls are such a great prompt; waiting for the prison, bordello, & crack house tales.


  7. Glenn Buttkus
    Nov 01, 2016 @ 17:32:56

    when I vote for a rating, it’s of your poem, not my comment. right?


    • kanzensakura
      Nov 01, 2016 @ 17:44:38

      Yeppers. It is for the poem. I thank you so much for voting. I will be glad when the voting mess is over with in our elections. My husband and I are both voting Libertarian, to the dismay of his Trump crazed mother. L since Sanders was defeated, it seemed the only way to go. He doesnXT have a chance but hey, at least my vote will not go to the other two.

      Sent from my Samsung Galaxy Tab®|PRO


  8. hypercryptical
    Nov 01, 2016 @ 18:51:24

    i am sure your descriptive write is accurate Toni, the ‘romance’ of life in the harem being rightly erased.

    I am sure Bjorn is right too in that Daesh regard the abuse and rape of women acceptable in their sickeningly skewed version of Islam.

    Kind regards
    Anna :o]


  9. kim881
    Nov 02, 2016 @ 03:43:42

    Woah! I didn’t expect this! An astonishing piece, Toni, that gets up my nose in more ways than one and under my skin. You started by creating such a heavy atmosphere with the smell and linked it to that line ‘The women were old or no longer desired’ – I immediately felt for those women and then you cranked it up by describing everything the walls saw. I wonder if the women confided in the walls… If they still do in the twisted world of Daesh.


  10. Brian
    Nov 02, 2016 @ 09:14:26

    Fictional it may be but it is not. Many cultures still demand that women be sequestered behind walls. Your poem exposes the truth in a ruthless manner.


  11. lynn__
    Nov 02, 2016 @ 11:46:31

    Not seeing the light of day…sad prison walls indeed. Poignant write, Toni!


  12. Prajakta
    Nov 02, 2016 @ 12:25:38

    What a grim picture.. So much hope and promise of life withering away within those walls. I have never heard of “seraglio” as such – just heard references about what happens behind the walls.


  13. kaykuala (@hankkaykuala)
    Nov 02, 2016 @ 12:40:54

    It is sad to know of the untold miseries of those who no longer were desired but lingered on under appalling conditions. The walls are numbed into silence



  14. NJ
    Nov 03, 2016 @ 03:34:15

    Oh boy! The image forming with your words… Like Brian said, the poem may be fictional but the words speak out the truth.


  15. georgeplace2013
    Nov 03, 2016 @ 06:09:40

    Powerful voice in this. Makes me shudder


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