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Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash


When you suggested that we speak to each other

exclusively in verse and prose,

I did not tell you that I only saved poetry

for the things I was scared to say.

I just said I could spend years

chasing sonnets up the slope of your back

and hoped you did not hear

the mothwing tremble of my tongue. When you called me a

“celestial child of thought and blood and bone,”

I blushed bright as the traffic jam constellation

we watched from your car.

That night, we hung our reservations on a hill

and the highways glowed open-heart red beneath us.

And with headlight eyes, you told me

that your biggest fear was being misunderstood,

was not knowing what someone truly wanted

to say to you.

When I ask you why, you said

that English and your mother

were not on speaking terms,

and you were trying to bring the both of you together

with what little Russian you could find

wedged in your teeth after twenty-one years.

You told me you always wondered

what the air between you two would pulse with

if only you could fill it with enough sound

to say anything of substance.

And I marveled at the kind of love

that could move a mother to split her tongue in two,

giving half to her homeland