In this series of posts, we’ll be bringing you glimpses into the devising process for The Trojan Women Project. The thirteen performers involved often wrote poems, songs, dialogues, and movement pieces on the theme and ideas being explored in the rehearsal room. Sometimes they were created in the spur of the moment and other times director Rachel Hynes gave them prompts to go away and work on and then return with material. This piece was written by Ezra Tozian who played Devin to explore the idea of “women’s language.” Their inspiration for it was idea of women needing to learn how to speak again after trauma. The poem also speaks from the idea that non-binary folk can experience trauma the same way as women and that their experiences aren’t dissimilar. The piece imagines what someone might say if they were given the space to speak and was actually listened to rather than talked at.

erase this
by Ezra Tozian

If I say I have nothing to say then my mouth is glued
and the words are stuck
and it’s easier to sit there with razors in my eyes than on the roof of my mouth.
If I say I have nothing to say then you should believe me because if I say what I have to say it’ll tear me apart and I know you can’t put together the pieces
They are too jagged and bruised from previous handling and forcing sharp edges to slit where they don’t belong
If I say I have nothing to say should I elongate my sentences until the tamber pleases you and the pitch key fits closer to major than to minor. If I elongate my vowels then maybe you won’t hear the rapid gasps in between the syllables with all that my muscles have to scream and all my bones have to wear

(maybe then you’ll hear)

“I wanna erase them”
well, honey
you gotta burn my flesh off
//raize and devour it//before
you can get anywhere near them
all those scars you see
are me pasted back together
with spit and sheer will

“I wanna erase them”
Well, honey,
I am not some weathered stone.
This is how I am.
This is how I look.
A forest
Once flush
Now deserted.

Burnt.

Pinks scars and red flesh and blue vessels and pinched blood and –

don’t tell me.
I don’t want to know
or remember
The details

If I let it stay here
In no man’s land
then that’s as close as it gets to safety.

-it all meant it was a good time and it all means it’s okay and it all means you’re normal and it all means yes even though everyone knows it means no but now no one knows what no even means anymore and there’s no way of ever knowing what happened or what want or desire entails or what that even feels like can you tell me what that feels like? does it feel like terror or petrified brick? does it feel like suffocating or strangled voices? does it feel like force and pain and grunts and absence? does it feel like absence? to me it feels like absence can you tell me what it feels like to be human again? to not feel something carved out caved in and forced something scarred

and honestly I feel like you’ve forgotten I think that (definitely) you’ve forgotten or (maybe) you’ve never known or even wanted to know but I want you to know

If there’s a war waging beneath my skin it’s because you’re the one who put it there.