I haven’t the youse of my mother, or her knife and fork dinner duet. I lack the soft “ya” of my sisters, their mother hen togetherness, their Mom-spooned vowel melodies, and their fork and knife right-handedness. I wanted to be like them, safe in their language, united, fearless – quick thinking, fast talking, voweled together, deft of hand.
I’ve been led instead to use the word “you” like a desert bird, standing on one utensil, unbalanced.
Lift a fork, lower the knife.
I think slowly, with the deliberation I need to follow through sounds, not drop silverware.When I open my mouth, the oh sound doesn’t ah, remains round.
I believe mother felt disappointment in my vowels. She knew I knew I’d move words away from her someday.
Mother knew what lay below the sounds I’d choose, words I’d lose. What, she wondered, will she keep?
Didn’t weep, mother, for me, but set a table place, in case my singular, my alone, drove me home.