Mother Tongue

When you look at me, what do you see ?
A human being of flesh and blood?
What do you believe is reasonable?

At the gym,
I am dressing
In the locker room when
A duet of Hebrew rises over the metal divider wall.
My drowning heart grasps for any snippet
As if it were oxygen:

I am overcome.
This music undoes me,
Hot droplets of exile
Spill down my cheeks.

I thank the women for their Ivrit,
Beg them to never stop,
Tell them I dream of returning
To Jerusalem
For Purim,
B’ezrat Hashem.

I am that little girl who
Hid in her bedroom
Each night after
Performing in The Nutcracker Ballet
With a makeshift menorah:
A red cookie tin filled with
Pine-scented votives,
Not knowing what I was doing,
Or why,
Or what to say,
Or how to pray.

I am but one of
The legions of indigenous people
Wrested of our mother tongues,
Mouths colonized.
I want my words back.
I want all of us returned to our
Original beauty.

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On behalf of every woman and man
Of every diaspora
Dispossessed of their respective
Ancestral homelands,
I am fighting for the language
That was taken.

When I have readied myself,
And the time does come,
I will abandon the imprisonment
Of the oppressor’s tongue.
I hereby declare and demand
My right to exist as I am.

May we all feel native soil
Beneath our feet.
May we breathe.
May we be liberated.
May there be peace.


The premier West Coast Hevria event is coming! Wednesday, January 27th, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., I will be performing with Darshan Project at Pico Shul in Los Angeles. Please join us for a night of music, poetry, and happy fun times.