Your mother speaks in her Ukrainian by Ben Ray

in Poetry/Spotlight

Each time she phones them

she speaks a torn, bastardised version of it –

a calcified, roots-ripped-up version of it

a black and white, grandparents version of it

until it’s no longer what you could recognise

as a breathing, living thing. It is now unmistakably

her Ukrainian – reformed in abstract each time

she calls a country that vanished sixty years ago.

When she speaks it, it is a gift with no recipient

in her mouth it is a shadow, a shallow imprint

of where a language used to be. I often wonder

if I examine her tongue closely, whether I’d see

written in clumsy, childish script

her Ukrainian word for exile

Jude Cowan Montague is an artist and broadcaster. She produces 'The News Agents' for Resonance FM, a weekly show experimenting with international story and the arts. She worked at Reuters Television News for many years as an archivist and this has informed her poetry and some of her art. She's an award winning printmaker and a composer. Her graphic memoir 'Love on the Isle of Dogs' is available from Central Books.

Latest from Poetry

FLUSMS by James Worse

frusping by the wuthersidea swittering of gooseloss,the yutherblussom chunteringin glumhalf so misfectual.the
Go to Top