She sways, shifts,
a hunch the current follows.
Chagrined, it sifts the shirt,
the camisole, the effortless hair.
(Earring tangled there, gold crustacean.)
She is a slow, sunken spin, slow sweep below. Silt-
stroked eyes. Silt-stroked tongue. The inlet of her
mouth, silt-stroked teeth.
Notes on the PoemWe continue to focus our Poem of the Week spotlight on the recently announced 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist. This week, we consider the moving selection "Silt" by Soraya Peerbaye, from her collection inspired by real-life tragedy, Tell: poems for a girlhood. That tragedy is the murder of a young woman, abused and brutalized by her ostensible peers. There is much about the story to horrify and infuriate, and much that poet Soraya Peerbaye heard firsthand, as she attended the trials of two participants eventually convicted of the young woman's murder, and pored over transcripts to distill the story into striking poetry. "Silt" brings a startling beauty to the young woman's demise. Several poetic sound devices serve to soften both the violencethe woman suffered and the shock of the discovery of her body. That softening, through features such as assonance and onomatopoeia, offers a kind of comfort and lends dignity to the victimized girl. Silt literally and figuratively blurs things here, but in the midst of it all is one crisp image, that of the earring/crustacean. It's a piercing flash of life that feels like a tribute to the young woman's spirit.