motion, 14

sitting on the train this morning
flipping through the notebook that
i’ve carried with me everywhere
written nearly everything in
these last two long and full years
which i am getting ready to let go
i turned to the pages where i wrote
khmer characters over and over again
so many hours over the three months
i spent in my hot and dusty motherland

in my impromptu review,
i stumbled over a letter in the alphabet
my aunt had worked so hard to teach me–
slipped from my memory in a way
the american abc’s never have
i finally found the letter again
in context, in one of the few words
i could still sound out

relieved, i considered writing
anglo letters beside the khmer
to remind myself of the pronunciation
but something about that feels
like cheating, though forgetting
might feel worse

i want to know the words
on their own, to feel the language
is really inside me, though i know
that whether or not i leave written evidence,
i remember the khmer in comparison to the english
my mind still lives in the language of my home land
in the language my tongue knows best
however closely, however tightly, i grasp
the language i was first loved in.

3 thoughts on “motion, 14

      1. Ah.
        I was taught to chant those letters and used to look forward to that one because it signaled a change/end in the rhythm and the end of the set.
        The remembering gets easier with each revisit.

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