Heiko H. Caimi – Mother, tongue

Mother, mother
how much you are tongue to me
how much language is to me my mother
blending strong with soft, soft words
immeasurably true
in their disjoining, and joining
language of scents, savors, tears
sublime tactual munching
and sounds falling headlong
from steep pavilions
to a brain that numbly
sends back accents and lutes
onoff, onoff, onoff,
and paper words
in the dark haze
mixing mother-tongue
with foreign inks and fonts
intelligible, unintelligible
daft, double-dumb signs
like the disparity
in a dialogue with a cat
or a shimmering sex
in the silence of a silenus dusk
sticking to me
branding me
printing me, shrill, in flesh and blood.

Language, how much you’re mother to me
always present
kindling my senses.
darn, hard-working ant
moth-eating me
and straining me.

And, like a child, I
am still learning
an ignorant farmer as I am
of that language
I’m sowing, never nigh
growing to the dizziness
there on high
craving lighter, sterner
with liberty to undo
and redo
with the fear of not being
neither mother, nor father
but lonely
and unveiled
on my way.

It burns me as I touch it
– the language –
it refines itself as I eat it again
one more bite to the throat
onoff, onoff, onoff
like the language I lost
and the other one I never won.

How much to me you are mother, tongue
and how below I am
to my own expectations.

Poem selected by Emilia Mirazchiyska, series’ editor
Translated by Angela D’Ambra

Angela D’Ambra graduated in Foreign Languages and Literatures (University of Florence) in 2008. In 2009, she obtained the Master II degree in translation of post-colonial texts in English (Pisa); in 2015, the degree in Modern Literature (Florence); in 2019, the Master degree in Theories of Communication (Florence). Since 2010, she has been translating, at an amateur (non-profit) level, postcolonial poetry in English. Her translations have appeared in various Italian online and printed journals. She published three books of Canadian poetry in Italian translation: Gary Geddes, “Being Dead in Venice” (November 2019); Glen Sorestad, “Dancing Birches” (February 2020), Susan McMaster, “Visitations” (March 2020). The three plaquettes are published by IMPREMIX, Turin, Italy.

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Heiko H. Caimi
Heiko H. Caimi, born in 1968, is a writer, screenwriter, poet and teacher of fiction writing. He has collaborated as an author with publishers Mondadori, Tranchida, Abrigliasciolta and others. He has taught at the Egea bookshop of Bocconi University in Milan and several other schools, libraries and associations in Italy and Switzerland. Since 2013 he has been editorial director of the literature magazine Inkroci. He is one of the founders and organizers of the traveling literary festival Libri in Movimento. He collaborates with the news magazine "InPrimis" keeping the column "Pages in a minute" and with the blog of the writer Barbara Garlaschelli "Sdiario". He published the novel "I predestinati" (The Predestined, Prospero, 2019) and edited the anthology of short stories "Oltre il confine. Storie di migrazione" (Over the border. Migration stories, Prospero, 2019).