I think that
The right words
With the right feeling
I try to tell you
Only I can feel
In a language made
In a language that
Is not the
Language of my
I don’t talk often about the feeling of loss that comes from not knowing my native language fluently.
I don’t talk about what it’s like not to have known my culture, not in the sense of art and dance and craftsmanship. Not even in the sense of food, or how my ancestors knew to make rough architecture that somehow worked with the subtlety of the sky above.
I don’t talk about the loss because it’s not a grief I’m sure I can even own.
I am white, privileged, female, Irish. I know that these words can mean power, unconscious bias, vulnerable, favored. I know that sometimes the wrenching I feel in my chest for a past I’ll never know might never really go away, and, actually, the feeling might grow my empathy.
If there was a reason to feel so adrift from one’s own place in the world, maybe that’s it. Maybe the reason was to have someone understand, at least marginally, the loss that former colonies all around the world felt.
I understand that political correctness is oft used as a term that is actually spat, rather than said. Millennials and snowflakes are delivered twisted lips, and furrowed brows. The thing is, I really don’t care anymore. Understanding that gentrification means mourning a culture is important for the survival of whole people’s, not just one mom and pop shop on a street corner.
Not talking about the grief of loss of a whole culture, even one I never knew in life, is not good or sustainable – it’s not progressing anything by keeping it inside.
By speaking out feeling, we can progress understanding. We can open spaces for representation. For healing.
Most importantly, for healing.
I can’t express this bone deep loss I feel, when I know there are parts of my history that I’ll never recover. That I’ll never really feel home, because it’s never been whole in all the time I’ve known it.
What I can say, is how, as much as I love English, it will never come close – rather, I will never come close to expressing this sense of loss through it.
Not through the language of the ones who shaped it.
And there’s a sad beauty, in that, too.
The language of my heart is one I have never known, but the language that formed over it can still try it’s best to heal what was lost.