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Trilingual

July 16, 2005

Imagine what it feels like –
cultural conflict contained in your voice,
words a haven from daily exposure
to a world with noisy populace.

Messages mixing, I spent my years
enshrined in a tomb of my own creation
watching Spanish ladies dancing to
the sounds of Hava Nagila.

Mola-weaving Cuna women
with Stars of David round their necks
existed in my dreams as
their soft Ladino voices caressed my ears.

Guayavera-shirted boys turned men
chanting their Haftorah in the
tropical heat, boys who “twinned”
with Refuseniks who had been denied.

Did these things really exist?
Or did I invent them into being
taking pieces of my fabric and
wrenching them apart and then together?

I open my mouth and words
fused by the cadence of memory
slip from my ready tongue. If only
I can remember what language to speak.


As I have said previously, I was born in a place that no longer exists — the Panama Canal Zone. From birth to 14, I lived in a cocoon, in a warm utopia where cultures mixed in the warm tropical sun. My parents were Jews from the American South living as teachers in a foreign land, and I was born a native to neither land, but at home in each. This poem gives voice to the expression “you can never go home again”.

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2 comments

  1. Nice entry. Thanks for stopping by my site.


  2. as a third culture kid myself, this really resonates with me. nicely written.



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