Still, I am begging to be forgiven for the love / of my life
I only speak my native language to the people I love
the most, I’d whispered, a quiet confession
of my worst crime and cruelty. And this is
the ugliest I’ve ever been, mouth agape with
words seeping out of holes in my teeth,
pouring out of the space between two tongues.
The truth is, I did kill someone ten summers
ago in July’s backyard. Plunging down on
a silent swing and waiting for my own language
to slip into the sky, but it never does. Always
freefalling back to earth. Always decaying
into the soft sand. And every bite of the flesh
-colored funfetti slick and slathered in sprinkles
pulling me away from my mama and the sachima
she’s brought for me. She has always wanted me
to speak pretty enough to be someone I am not.
But the truth is I have been repulsive from outset,
since flight a litany of lies, a Magnolia tree split
across two continents, the submission of lightless
Chinese ink to grimed and used escargot pots.
Some days, I can’t stand to look me in the eyes.
Still, at daybreak every morning, I am watching
the red circle of the East engulf my paling sky.
Still, I am begging to be forgiven for the love
of my life: this ugly mouth that fights to carry me
through every divide. Forgive me. This is all I have
ever known, these words thick with shame like
pooling grease. This homesick and foreign tongue.