God sometimes I forget your first language
isn't English. Not Arabic nor Aramaic--
those words you had to learn. We taught you
how to talk like us, then claimed to talk like you
and in your stead, though your first language
was the wind, moving over water.
How often I forget that I need only sigh
instead of plead or stammer; forgive
my wheedling, the ashes in my bread.
Like your prophet did, I listen at fire and tornadoes
and forget: first you were quiet, you are quiet yet
your first breath rebreathed each dawn
by every living thing--but even the birds cannot keep silent.
O you made us to sing but I've begun to suspect
that song is not the mother tongue.
E. D. Watson