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