Lexicon of Lost Words by Daughters – Sylvia Santiago and Jenny Wong

My tongue is still fetal

curled inside an eggshell mouth

            Two languages between us and we still don’t know how to speak to each other.
            Words might be the only thing we have in common.

Unable to spit up syllables

that pigeonhole my identity.

            Malikot, so naughty; a familiar refrain throughout my childhood.
            Matigas ang ulo, so headstrong; the chorus of my adolescence and my adulthood.

And disapproval feels closer

when coming from those

with a similar skin

to my mother.

            If I disagreed— so stubborn. If I dared disobey— so selfish.
            If my mother knew what words lurked beneath my tongue— 

Perhaps I am just as they say

a canary

that unpacks her lungs from their cage,

and sings colours into the sky.
Sylvia Santiago

Sylvia Santiago has been published in Uncanny MagazineLiminality, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere. She lives in Western Canada, but you can find her on Twitter @sylviasays2.

Jenny Wong

Jenny Wong is a writer, traveler, and occasional business analyst. She resides in the foothills of Alberta, Canada and tweets @jenwithwords. Publications include Claw & Blossom, Atlas & Alice, Whale Road Review, Lost Balloon, and FlashFlood as part of the 2020 International Flash Fiction Day UK.

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