Jerrice J. Baptiste

My Language

I speak English & French
neither feels like my language.
Kreyol, my mother’s language
feels like a heavy haystack
on tongue. It falls apart
I want to roll in it until it softens,
be fluent with amniotic fluid
like in mother’ s womb.

No hay stack in my home
I grab sweet guava & passion fruit,
bitter cacao blossoming on palate.
It only got me this far, awkwardly asking
a Haitian woman behind the red counter
for a goat dish with hot bonnet peppers.

I speak enough of each language
to save my life, and predict weather,
to know when to hide
from the alpha storm.

Jerrice J. Baptiste is the author of eight books. She has been published in West Trestle Review, Rigorous, About Place Journal, Plants & Poetry Journal, The Tulane Review, and many others.