this much i retain.

this much I retain

a smugness of tongue
pores augmented to
particular frictions

of phrase
resonant taut

frenulum linguae:
my fine flesh spine
rooted bottom-mouth, is

finessed in tricks of
banana-fruit custom.

Unearthed twice,
seeds of heritage soil

were vacuum-packed and
to ensure ease
of naturalisation.

Despite the sojourn through
the Singlish ‘lah’
ruby saplings
harvested from my mouth
carry globules of

Dravidian authenticity.

Thamizh ponn

the hard edge of the ‘L’
should subsume into
curl instinctive
against the palate like
beetle-nut leaves or

Hubba Bubba.

The double-N

‘girl’ sounds softly

but deep

like the goodness of
it is imbibed
with assurance.

I enunciate
with perfection
as though
sweaty backs are
being slapped
concrete verandas
cooling and
good young girls
combing afternoon oils
into auspicious brows.

(You speak so well)

I wax naïve,
oblivious to the
philosophical peaks
and credos
contemplative in
the insinuations
of a language
born of sages

now kept
in store-bought pots

beneath the mantle,
contained for private adoring,
my sea-locked tone
is strung fraught
in tight swallows

it remains thus,

rooted-bottom mouth
and disguised
in tricks, of
resonant taut
frenulum linguae
the fine flesh spine

this much I retain

Originally published by Peril magazine as part of the 2017 Queensland Poetry Festival edition, ‘I Can’t Speak To You’


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