Mother Tongue

I am assumed to be other until I speak,

Speech free from accented shackles  

Broken syllables

That would otherwise asphyxiate meaning,

Demarcate my chosen tongue as one other than my own.

So it's no wonder that I hesitate

To claim a language I am well-versed in,

To reverse the assumption that it must be broken.

There are no colonizers without colons:

No false parallels without punctuation.

I studied English to understand

and defy

those who draw a period before I have even started a sentence,

Who impose a type because my face says things

before my mouth opens.

When this happens enough,

you start to internalize the language

written for you by others.

You start to investigate form as a function of fear,

when the urge to create is greater

than the urge to disappear.

Which parts do I fictionalize, 

and which parts do I forget?

I live so deeply in my own head

I fear I've lost my voice.

Ruth Chen