The Child Doesn’t Matter: A Poem

You are still the man who did not teach me

His mother tongue. That’s the proof of your

Absence and negligence. That we couldn’t

Speak to one another. You left your child speechless.

I am a daughter without a father tongue.

I devoured the scraps that I could pick up

As you spoke to your friends on the phone.

The way you talked to your sister, the way

You told her to go to hell, that your brother

Belonged there too, the whole country and yet

You never let go. You never let change sink in.

I heard you talk for hours, my father who was a mute

To me. Who looked at me and did not understand a

Word. My mother tongue became the language of

Safety and refuge. Away from you. Planning to get

Away from you. Filtering out the comedy amongst

The everyday tragedies with you. Every association

With you and the language that was yours and never

Allowed to be mine, never trusted me with it, sabotaged

My every quest to learn it to finally feel closer to you,

At all, understand who you are, that way, father linguistics.

You had your parallel life going on, a world without your

Children and your wife, a world that spoke your language.

We have always been onto you, father. You were so confident

And overt about the debauchery and corruption you lived.

The lies you weaved around yourself. We had to be of use.

Otherwise we weren’t any good. Not worthy enough of your

Time. Your head in the television, same language, you were

Engulfed, you would never look at me that way, interested, in

The very least. You kept me on the edge of the sea, between two

Worlds that would simply not come together. You took what you

Needed from my mother, and left her be, with us, all the time.

You want forgiveness without asking for it. You want mercy

Without ever admitting all of your wrongdoings. There was a time

When your language came into my world, directly from you.

When you taught me about your Southern ways, letting me experience

Them first hand, old school, as a girl, what my father thought about

Women who would swarm around him without knowing how he really

Categorised them and talked about them in sheer depreciation.

Before anything else came in your language, into my brain

And body, I became a whore, a father’s first words to his daughter,

Look at you, eat eat eat, look at you, you hammered your words into

Me when I was at my most vulnerable. You never picked me up.

You pushed me back down. To stay there, at your feet. My father.

The man. From the South of Italy. Who suddenly learned how to speak.

To me. In his words. In his language. There you were. And I absorbed you.

I took what I could from you. Was that your way of communicating love?

Did I become like the women you chased in darkness, behind our backs,

Yet in public? Did I represent them to you? The women you felt attracted

To until you were finished with them? Injured them and dropped them back

Into the marshlands to drown amongst the many names on your list?

Your language, one of the most melodious ones on earth, is also the one

That broke my heart in dialect, that I associate with violence, with physical

And mental abuse, against the female body, stained by hypocrisy and feigning

The art of life and love, of detonating narcissism, of a religion that reeks,

Of power dynamics that kill, voices that strain themselves and a temper

That could make an entire house tremble, insatiable to the core, the sound of

Unbuckled belts and faces deformed and unfolded by incomparable rage.

A world erupted out of silence. I wouldn’t be the recipient of the

Beauty of your voice, your good language, your proper vocabulary.

I didn’t fall into that category. I was not to be impressed. A child is

A child is a child is a child is money from the government, money for

A child. And all your sacrifices that ensued. Your fucking sacrifices.

We cost you your tears, blood and sweat. Everything was our fault.

Our own existence. We fucking cost too much. You didn’t see that coming.

You thought you could let us live in poverty in a rich country whilst you

Would become the king of finances and decadence in your secluded realm.

One language became the middleman between us. Not yours, not mine.

We kept a distance between us. This language became a bridge that was

Also a ruin from the start. You invaded my lands and would never let me

Set foot in yours. You sent your bombs in your native language and I tried

To build walls that I never wanted to build with my mother tongue that had

Always been the object of your mockery.

My mother’s tongue.

How you tried to infiltrate her with yours.

By force. With your artificiality. Chicanery.

We would always be kept apart.

You made sure of that from the day I was born.

In my mother’s arms.

red people woman girl
Photo by Rene Asmussen on

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