Mother Tongue – Toti O’Brien

How it crumbles
like pebbles slipping between your fingers.
Oh, the number of rings you possess.
Aren’t jewels stones?

when your brain has scattered
like beads on a carpet
you start marveling at the uselessness
of redundant adornment.

Gold is dust
swallowed by lazy waters.
After a long season of draught
river banks are sunken
and a reek of mud fills our nostrils
as we walk.

Your step has become unsteady
one of your feet, askew
skids on its own course.

Mother tongue
as you lose it
the universe falls apart.
All of my past implodes
as its vessel gives in.

Cracks, leakage
infiltration were bearable.
Now this rupturing ends the empire.
Such sadness.
Like a flight of swallows
headed to Neverland.

With your silence
long-lasting spells will subside
something whispers into my ear.
Not a comforting sound
but the metallic utterance of a toy frog
whose mechanics are breaking
as your lips harden.

If the spell will dissolve
what will remain?
A dryness of bones
a flayed snake
as defenseless as a severed length
of garden hose.

I’ll become an alphabet
unknown to myself
a satchel of un-deciphered symbols
yet another story untold.

TotiOBrien1Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. She was born in Rome then moved to Los Angeles, where she makes a living as a self-employed artist, performing musician and professional dancer. Her work has most recently appeared in Wilderness House, JMWW, Colorado Boulevard, and Ruminate.