2023 Hour 22: Mama speaks

All the days of my childhood,
Mama spoke three languages,
Effectively switching from
Tongue to tongue,
Reflecting mood,
Responding to situation.

Public, private, perverse Mama
Obscuring conversations,
Shutting out nosy neighbors and
Strangers on the train
With smooth, sinuous Spanish.

And then the real private Mama,
The one living in a four-room rowhouse
Surrounded by difficult husband and
Raising even more difficult children,
Insisting on English,
Teaching us to fit in.

Most fluent of all, though,
The language of silence.
Tightening lips,
Expressive brows lifting in peaks or
Crashing into valleys,
Dark eyes twinkling, narrowing,
Changing inexplicably, yet unmistakably.

Spanish, English, Silence.
Languages for the seasons of her life,
Communicating far more by
Her choices than words could
Ever say.

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