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Jillian Weise

How the Dumb Were Granted the Right to Have Sex

"1575--Lasso, a Spanish lawyer, concluded that those who learn to speak are no longer dumb and should have rights to progeniture."
Disability History Timeline

"Mujer muda, mujer estupida,"

the merchant said, while the woman shook

her head, waved her hands


and the customers continued, "Cuanto?"

Lasso stepped between merchant and woman,

took her hand in his,


led her past the cathedral, the fountains,

and into the arch of his home. Let’s say

her mouth was stained black


from berries and he kissed her under gargoyles.

How did he bring her to speech? Not a kiss,

a kiss alone would not


unlock twenty years of silence mistaken

for insolence. He ordered chocolate

in bottles, and when


she drank, still no sound. Lasso’s maid

was first to hear the mute woman speak.

in midafternoon.


From inside the bedroom, a high voice,

full of vibrato, reaching for vowels,

insisting, "Más, más."


Jillian Weise's work appears in The Atlantic Monthly, Chelsea, Salt Hill and others.  She's the Fred Chappell Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets award from Florida State University.

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