Where Languages Die

I speak three languages
but each of them hides
a history of hurt
sutured scars
sewn over a graveyard
of disbelief and denial

Mandarin was yanked
from my mouth
they told me
it was a tooth I didn’t need
it’s the only language
I’m supposed to speak
but was never allowed to

English was shoved
down my throat
until I regurgitated it
without an accent
it’s the only language
I’m authorized to speak
yet it’s always a wonder
when I do

French was a choice
an act of resistance
I wanted to speak a language
waged without war
unbloodied by my body
yet still it’s a shock
when I speak it
delight dueling with disdain

but I refuse
to give in to the ghosts
this graveyard is a garden
it will grow again.

Sarena Tien
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