I speak a private English
Poetry is spoken words, mine are foreign
born to English, I found my own
since kindergarten I have fought for it
Sister Ryan wanted me to lip sync
adulterated it, amputated it
Sister Grace said
I sounded like a
tough Chicago street kid
refined it, softened it,
my philosophy prof, put me in my place
when I argued with her, she retorted,
me thinks the lady doth
protest too much’
raised its volume, expanded its reach
when women said, enuf!
we’re done being quiet and
acting like ladies
and lately age forcibly lowered its pitch.
I’ve sworn obscene words
sung off key, washed my voice
of any odor of origin,
written in my own words,
but at this point, this now
I have gathered too many dialects,
styles, words that used to be foreign
and are now my familiars.
Still I don’t know
how to understand nor speak gecko,
cat is a language that holds no interest,
but through the muscle building of poetry and prayer
I am beginning to learn the language of mountain,
can almost understand bird news alerts,
cockroach doesn’t have to make a sound
for me to know exactly what she wants.
Finally I learned the better part of speaking is listening,
especially to the expanse of
resonating with the many varieties
who spoke into the first exhale.
Sharon Lopez Mooney, "it's time to let go, mother tree", in Writing In A Woman's Voice, ed. Beate Sigriddaughter, Silver City, July 12, 2021, New Mexico, https://writinginawomansvoice.blogspot.com/