Short Story and Poetry Contest / Winter 2018
A Mother in Six Tones

Runner-up in the 2017 U of T Magazine Poetry Contest

It was not long after my birth
that I discovered the faults of this language, this
arbitrary mouth slosh, 
zero-sum tonguing game,
this slap of syllables inside teeth
that could disorient this iron tower of stoicism 
called father.

I was not warned that to learn 
was to lose,
that every iota of Anglo-clarity,
every instance of Enguistic mastery 
was a willful forgetting
of a mother I never knew:
a mother in six tones
who was not prepared 
to be hosted in the bodies of gwai mui daughters
across the Pacific.

Not until I was told
(by the only mother I’ll ever know), 
that prayer is a sigh, 
would I remember 
is the language
of home.



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