Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry

Vikas K. Menon


Elephants sway in my mother's English—
Pleased to meeting you she says
the multiple suffixes of her mother tongue
affix themselves to her meter: Okay-na!

In Malayalam, vowels sit like an egg
on tongue, ant to aardvark. Her voice vies
against drumkit English,
hums with the rhythm of a mridangam.

In English, the word Malayalam
reads the same from left to right as
right to left—a mirror of contentment.
If only other words were so settled.

My mother worries about the pale clusters
on her last mammogram.
Breast cancer is very popular now.
I say, not popular.

Yes, she says, very popular.

Our other tongue is this silence.

A hush,

a blank face
pressed against the glass.