They used to conspire in a brother tongue
no one else could parse.
They were its sole native speakers,
these sons of mine
who grew up talking their way to the table.
They come back as men to the keep
of my kitchen, the habit of food and talk,
leaving their rented rooms
half a life away.
Who are these children-in-disguise
with their beards and glasses,
smoking and joking, each in his own tongue,
about who knows what?
Don’t get twin beds, I begged my mother, afraid
of the slightest space
between him and her—a nightstand
with its drawers and knobs,
foursquare and stolid as a gravestone,
the two of them
buried on either side.
These sons at my table: the slightest silence
and I rush to translate.
Let them speak one language again
the way they used to.
This is still my house.
When I die, they’ll divide it.
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