My mother never knew where she was,
never quite understood what tongue to use.
Seven languages spilling out of her mouth
like high tides through damaged dams,
she created a bastard language for her bastard child.
She always belonged everywhere.
Though I was plucked from her body,
I never belonged anywhere.
She matched her words with her mood
Channeling nations I’ve only heard of in song;
Israel, France, Haiti, South Africa.
I matched my words with my surroundings
planting my feet deep into the ground
of whatever land I found myself on.
Flexing my lips and curving my tongue,
my intonation echoing the natives,
Willing myself to have a history.
With her tongue heavy from her past
and mine light with all that’s ahead
our miscommunication was linguistic.
2. Inaal Abouk – curse your father
When she told me what she meant all these years,
I tumbled out of my chair in a fit of laughter.
Sprawled on the carpeted floor of my mothers bedroom,
I let the irony hang in the air between us.
She has never cursed my father,
never spoken ill of the man who chose to
cast an absentee ballot in the life of his only daughter.
Since the absent are always wrong,
my mother was a saint and my father
the serpent responsible for our downfall.
I’ve scribbled in 3 languages all
in an attempt to find a man I never knew.
Yet the only two words my mother kept
from a language she touched long ago
captured the sinking in my chest.
I no longer felt separate from her
as seven languages danced around my home.