by Megan Merchant
published in Breakwater, Issue 23
Today, my mother forgot the word for bathroom
while she was in one. She said dry room, no—wet room, no—
tell me, then what are the others called. I’d like to walk them.
At one point, someone taught me a word I’ve forgotten.
A room I was already inside. A marriage. A country. A war.
A man’s fingers cuffed around my wrist. Someone promised—
it is common, when learning another language, to lose
pieces of your mother tongue. Where the bar lights are also
a call to prayer, and the flowers aching the field are no less
yellow, the spider’s bite still poisoned, when I cannot
say their name. My mother will soon lose
my own and even though I understand the way of things,
I will hear the horses, in mourning, nip
at the electric fence, and I will not have the word for shock.