i want to build a home for my daughter
where i can teach her how to dance
before hunger teaches her first.
i want to give her my brown skin
my love of self
i hope she learns how to breathe
free of any man’s hands
around her neck.
i pray that she does not inherit
my lack of homeland.
i hope that she is tender
i hope she is born with a wild tongue.
i hope she refuses to let anyone
cut it out.
i am teaching myself to recover
the movements of a mother tongue
from whom my mouth is estranged:
the purred “r” at the end of
the naturally melodic cadence of
and jam barapa?
the surprising tenderness
of aku cinta kamu.
it’s too late for this language
to ever feel natural on my tongue.
it will always be foreign
even though it runs through my blood.
i have an american name
an american body
an american tongue
that trips clumsily over bahasa indonesia
and builds an impenetrable barrier
and my own family.
but i am trying.
aku mau mengingat.