Mother and Her Languages – A Hybrid by Henneh Kyereh Kwaku

IceFloe Press

Mother & Her languages

[…] What was the first known act of translation in the history of mankind?

[…] it was when a mother heard her baby babble or cry, and had to decide in an instant what it meant.

—Mary Ruefle

Over the phone, I tell Maa: please rest. She snorts. I understand. She means: if I don’t, who will? I wish I didn’t understand this. But I do. I wish this could be lost in translation—but I’d be a wicked son, unworthy, but still a son— not to understand my mother’s tongue.
Another day on the phone, Maa: n’te wo n’ka akyɛre. Maa has never said I miss you, if she ever did, I don’t remember or maybe I stole it from her throat—I sharpened my tongue on a stone, pulled her closer, licked her throat until the words lost their roots & their heaviness.

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