What I Mean When I Say I Was Brought Up Bilingual

by Lisa Tulfer

The words taste strange. My mother’s milk
has become a foreign cuisine, baby food
replaced by a sophisticated, grown-up menu.

In my grandmother-tongue, mother-tongue, auntie-tongue
I am still a child,
a much-loved child who knows where
and with whom
she belongs.

In my father-tongue, I am an adult,
educated, articulate, professional.
The words of my father-tongue are the tools of my trade,
and with them I have crafted the construct that I am.

Words sit uncomfortably in my mouth,
familiar and unfamiliar,
myself and other
and in between.

©Lisa Tulfer, 2023