My Mother(‘s) Tongue

by Denisa Vítová

My tongue is my mother’s tongue.

My language is as sharp and thick as hers.
I borrow her words, heat them up
in the furnace of my mouth and turn them
into heart-shaped shards of glass.

My heart is my mother’s heart.

I collect raindrops in buckets and tears
from peeling onion skins in my open hands
while in kitchen my mother makes
sizzling letters on paper.

My hands are my mother’s hands.

Though the geography of her language is cold
every winter those heavy snowfalls
melt on the tip of her tongue, becoming
curse words as we talk blood, fire and men.

My lips are my mother’s lips.

And when I burn her syllables fall out cool as rain.
While she licks off the salt on my cheeks
my own tongue flutters between my teeth
like a wild bird in a cage refusing to leave.

I will always speak in my mother’s tears.

Once I have a daughter I will pass onto her
that old scarred tongue, serve it
on a silver plate with a note
saying: ‘Your language didn’t just grow

from a seed. It’s only here
after all your mothers chewed on the bitter
and the sweet, moulding
their tears into a song.’