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To Be Heard As Complaining Is Not To Be Heard. Part II


To Be Heard As Complaining Is Not To be Heard
Part II: If These Walls Could Talk

by Will Damarjian

If These Walls Could Talk

If these walls could talk they would tell you everything I cannot say

They would groan and protest under the strain

Unlike me, these walls would speak fairly

I am biassed and overly emotional, an unreliable narrator

It’s personal, victimhood is a conflict of interest, perpetrators are neutral and informed

Perhaps the walls would remember better

If the chair from French could talk, it would remember my palm gripping the edge of my chair

The projector would recount uncomfortable stares, long pauses

Blinking lights a silent ‘I see your stress’

The table not only carved with bored initials of previous students but a witness to what was
spoken around it

The paving stones outside Mallet Place know who crossed them in January

Thick gates remember songs, and poems, and pleas to not cross

Stickers half peeling, sun faded, mark the spot of old protest

The halls would remind us who couldn’t walk through the doors

Gates know who was stopped and asked to prove their welcome

Who simply walked on by

Elevators know if they were repaired or left unattended

Bathrooms know who cried in them between classes

The mirror recounts the mundane picking at teeth and the after exam tears

They know silly secrets, who snuck out without washing their hands 

Reflect back the many ‘Excuse me, this is the women’s toilet’ 

The tile echoes the words, the mirror reflects the faces

The building where I spilt my pencils would remember its old names

Lecterns and desks would recount old meetings

Windows have watched who taught what so-called sciences

Walls felt their signs being replaced

If we called in the university for an interview, it would not fill out a formal complaint

Ivy would recount every footstep through the archway

The door would remember if it was really open for that private meeting, or if it was shut

Chairs would remember who sat there and stayed silent

Whiteboard shadows mark what was written then erased

But these walls don’t talk, they can’t fill out an email or respond to a hearing

The papers aren’t printed, they are lost, never written

No record, except records proving nothing ever happened

The walls don’t talk but we have glowing reports of reforms 

Hallways posters of our response to the alleged mishaps that of course never happened

The complaint wasn’t processed, the email deleted 

You don’t recall the phone call? Well, there was conflicting protocol

The university did not file the complaint, walls are neutral, chairs never talk

You signed the paper, this testimony, that’s your signature. Remember?

The gates didn’t shut and keep students from class, that was striking staff

Tables and chairs in offices didn’t complain and cause a problem

You filed the complaint and we have determined you are the complainer

WILL DAMARJIAN is a former UCL student of Comparative Literature, union enthusiast, and adoptive mom to many cats. They recently created an archival piece with the Museum of London interviewing members of the London bear scene about the impacts of gentrification on older men’s ability to hangout, cruise and get drunk. When not complaining, Will enjoys canning and pickling veggies, cooking for their husband and painting. 

Lead image: Changbok Ko