Which language do you dream in,
swear in, cry in, asked the questionnaire.
How many languages do you swim in,
drown in, breathe in, mime in?
Do you know how many tongues have adopted
your voice? And when at night you stare
at dark walls and one pair of lips
comes closer, whispering in perfect German
Ich bin deine Mutter -
Or the night shadows enlarge into a Fritz Lang
open scream and Muttersprache appears
on the silent movie screen, then:
what do you reply? In which language,
and how clearly, do you say: my mother tongue
is somewhere in the recesses of my mind.
I am not an orphan. I have a mother.
She put me to bed one night
and went away. The film we made
together has long been silent. But I still
hear her voice in the keyhole of my heart.
© Nora Nadjarian
All rights reserved.
A poem I wrote in 2003, at a time when I was considering mother and other tongues. Ironically, I wrote it back then as if my mother tongue was German (which it isn't) and just recently I have met two members of Fictionaut who are Germans writing in English... This one's for you Finnegan and Dorothee!