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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

the kindergarten

graduation song

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,

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