mother tongue

Poem: An Ode to My Mother Tongue

As many of us have had to force our tongues to learn English, this is an ode to my mother tongue, Arabic, reminding me to never let go of my roots. This poem only illuminates its true message when read twice; once fully top to bottom, and then back up from bottom to top. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We understand the beauty of our mother tongue when we are abroad.” Here is my understanding. 


This is an open letter to my mother tongue

Thank you for nurturing me when I was young

Gave me tongue, I’m a part of you

You kept feeding me Arabic

I produced your sounds through my vocal cords

But after moving to the West, seeking a better life from the rest

I’m still stressed due to Islamophobic protests

Praying under pressure to rid of my Arabian attributes

Because this land wants me to be free

So here I am

Translating phrases

From Arabic into English

Questioning my identity

Who am I?

I’m an immigrant in either country

Even if I was born in Ivory Coast

Moroccan by nationality

I’m allowed to be American through mentality

Dear mother tongue

You are east of Eden

The Middle East is demon

You tell me nothing about

Holy, Mother

Your smothered stutter too terrorized to speak for

English in America is

Becoming my tongue

They say I’m

Quenched for linguistic homicide

Following words of silencers

Censuring words of ancestors

This is farewell to

Occupying my language

I know what this nation means

I have to give you up for this American dream




I speak English now.