The days before bilingual – Zannah Kearns

The days before bilingual

I send my daughter into a room
where no one
speaks her language—
or rather she
doesn’t theirs.

Small and rigid,
she contains herself,
shrinks her fear to a furred stone,
the pit of a peach newly at her centre.

They try to be kind,
but how to play mummies & daddies
without darling or apple?

She stands at an easel,
sweeps the arcs of rainbows
until it’s time again to sit
and have words swirl around her
like paint brushes in a jar of water.

Walking home, she screams—
and I see the relief of all her day’s words

The second day,
she imagines a sparrow to fly with us to school.
In biro, I draw a heart on her palm.
She walks inside,
my heart in her hand,
a sparrow flying with her.

Zannah Kearns lives near Reading. Her poems can be found in Poetry Birmingham Journal, Under the Radar and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She reviews pamphlets for Sphinx. @zannahkearns

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