don't forget


by Sylvia Beato


as memory so language blooms

lazy and corrosive in the body

my father for one doesn’t refuse 

to teach my mother english

but his tongue is tired 

and in any case he knows

she prefers quiet projects

tending the difficult african violent

or sensitive orchid that paint

the sturdy kitchen sills

on which she sips cafecito every morning 

and swears to me 

this really is the land of opportunity

and my father should practice english 

with her because otherwise 


            but coming home he’s restless

wrestles the pistil tip of his tongue 

to touch the shapes of words

that don’t taste foul

don’t poison 

the very water that feeds you