Seasons of the Ear

You cannot say my name.
You cannot say the name of my son, my hometown or the dish you just enjoyed.
Did I pronounce that correctly? Your tone is anxious.
You didn’t. But I won’t tell you that. Not anymore.
I now know that it takes years for ears to hear and sometimes even lifetimes aren’t enough for tongues to speak what they find unutterable.

My parents cannot say ‘girl’.
They try, don’t get me wrong.
But the girl trips on their tongue and tumbles out as ‘gall’ as if, despite all their years of speaking English they cannot smoothly convey their daughters.
Years hardly matter because they cannot say that either.
I once laughed at my mother, prodding her to try, but for all her facial contortions, she could only say ‘ears’.
The error was monstrous. Hysterical. Absurd.

How I wish I hadn’t mocked.
I didn’t know then that the songbook of language has many notes and that I, too, would find myself tone-deaf and tongue-tied.
So when you ask me now if you have correctly said the name my parents gave me – although I’m told I should be offended by your blunder, that I should cut you down to size and teach you the error of your ways – I’ll hide my laugh behind my smile and say,
“Yes. That’s right.”

Amy Marques grew up between languages and cultures and learned, from an early age, the multiplicity of narratives. She has penned three children’s books, barely read medical papers, occasional blogs, and numerous letters. Her words can be found or are forthcoming in The Dribble Drabble Review, Potato Soup Journal, Ariel Chart, Flash Fiction Magazine, and several print anthologies.

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