• Victoria Lambinicio

The Lost Language

He lost his language.

She could hear his American accent

On a weather-beaten Tagalog

It was an accent full of “You have weird eyes”

And “Why does your lunch stink?”

She could hear his trouble

His confused verb conjugations

And stammering nouns.

It was full of “Are you Chinese?”

And “I heard you eat cats and dogs.”


He wanted to regain his culture

Now that his ears were instead full of

“Why don’t you speak Tagalog?”

And “You’re so white-washed.”

But she could hear his trouble

His confused verb conjugations

And stammering nouns

On a weather-beaten Tagalog.


He lost his language

As a child who didn’t know any better

Thought friends were better than culture.

Thinking English was better than

His heritage.


No child could conquer

“You have weird eyes.”

“Why does your lunch stink?”

“Are you Chinese?”

“I heard you eat cats and dogs.”


So, he lost his language

And now he wants it back,

But it’s broken and accented.


He’s fighting for it

Overcoming the boundaries of–

The heart when it quakes

That his face doesn’t match

His tongue.

And the mirror, it says

“Why don’t you speak Tagalog?”

“You’re so white-washed.”


But she smiled when he said,

I want to be Filipino again.

And she thought,

“Maybe I want to be Filipino again too.”



END.



Poem by Victoria Lambinicio

Cover Photo by Ej Agumbay on Pexels