My Mother Tongue | Neema Komba | Poetry

2 months ago 22

My grandmother speaks in tongues
She splatters all the stories that birthed her
on the floor
She drains her memories into a fountain I cannot drink from
She opens her heart as wide as the stretch of her arms
But a cold wall stands between us;
a language

I cannot understand her

I am learning to recite non-verbal sonnets
Make everything an unspoken communion
The peeling of ripe mangoes
Or the breaking of fire roasted potatoes
There is no meaning to the flap of my lips
A foreign tongue holds my words captive

She cannot understand me

Where is my mother tongue?
She had given it to my mother by osmosis
And when she nursed me,
I was meant to absorb the code
forged in the belly of the forest where the ancestors rest—
A map to myself,
A compass to freedom,
A cypher to treasures buried in song.

Where is my mother tongue?
I want to swallow it whole
Let it slit my throat
And transplant vernacular
Lost to my ears
Into my heart
Let it lead me
To everything we have lost

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