by Courtney Hammond
You taste like a tongue I’ve never spoken
each time I kiss you. There is nothing here
I understand, everything I want to. If you were music,
I’d at least know the tempo, how to sway or quickstep.
I could pick up a tango in a few hours
but it takes months to teach my tongue to twist
around new vowels. I am constantly dreaming
in a language that isn’t mine but my blood
has always beat with the memory of lost
consonants. My skin has always been a discovered
land to conquer. There have been so many hands
digging for the treasure of me, not least of all
my own. There’s not much left in my core,
no golden veins or diamond bones or youth fountain
just the trappings of a once-noble monarch.
I can’t claim sovereignty over my own mouth
any more than I can ask for safe passage
beyond these borders. When you kiss me,
do I still taste like a dead language?