How to spell a word // Father’s tongue

Frank G Karioris

How to spell a word out from your mother tongue,
when it slips off your lips twisted & pulled, does
it spell itself amongst falling rain or wait till fall,
blankets over cold spaces between peoples, life.

To pull carrots from the ground makes roots anew,
plates are living beings who’ve renounced violence
in favor of deference to their lover the moon, doe
keeps time on shadowed snow, break from grasp.

How to spell a word from out your mother tongue,
where it sounds as foreign as your passport & skin
in the hot air; we make our own language now together
like those for when we don’t name the problem.

I never asked you to speak the tone out of words, or
to hold yourself away; your & our mother tongues know
each other well enough to see their faces, fingertip
traces of scars, & understanding what’s not spelt out.

Frank G. Karioris (he/they/him/them) is a writer and educator based in Brooklyn whose writing addresses issues of friendship, masculinity, and gender. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, Collective Unrest, Maudlin House, Sooth Swarm Journal, and Crêpe & Penn amongst others. They are a regular contributor to Headline Poetry & Press. Twitter: @FrankGKarioris