The prompt today from #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is ‘Speak the Lingo.’ Now the prompt’s line of thinking was about foreign holidays where you don’t ‘speak the lingo’ in the locale where you vacation, but I went a bit off-piste with the prompt. Being a professional foreigner, so to speak.


Once upon a time when I was young
I was foreign
in an era of the portable typewriter,
the phrasebook, paperback editions
of dual language dictionaries.
Maps were paper. Street almanacs
were called A to Zeds.
Even the last letter
of my mother tongue had
a different pronunciation.

My grandmother translated
for her immigrant mother and father.
I am the third generation
of women to bear the name
of stranger.

Home is never quite home.
Living in a body, on a planet,
is a confusion
never quite deciphered.

I am the vanguard
of the breathing barbarian horde
seething at the gates
of your museums and cathedrals,
eating your local food,
liking its taste
in the absence
of a common language.

Having just the silence in my head,
my mother tongue
encrypted in a notebook
that travels with me everywhere
as I translate.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Jonas Lee on Unsplash

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