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POETRY: Language

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Art by Aldwin Li, staff artist

mother, i can still feel the syllables in my throat--

the guttural r's and crisp t's that you taught me.

i doused them in so much water, thinking it

would flood my throat, so parched for the pretty

words of english that my tongue yearned to make

way for. kaleidoscope evanescence serendipity felicity

somehow happened to matter more than the

gurgled lullabies you raised me on with twinkling eyes--

like a flower half bloomed, you will be a colorful vision.

i preferred the shadows.

mother, i'm choking on them. they scar my throat

with their jagged edges, consonants cutting through

my flesh, craving to meet my tongue. those words are

seawater, a familiar brininess in my mouth that i can't

hold in for long.

i'm sorry, mother. i destroyed the home you built atop your

immigrant bones, these walls which have heard your foreign

melodies, these doors which you've said your goodbyes from

every chilly autumn morning, before our

worlds diverge from one another.

at lunch, i hide behind foods

that are easy to say,

letting the words drizzle of my tongue

and shrivel inside me all at once,

begging you--

please bring me a glass of water.


Krithika Shrinivas is a sophomore at Emory University studying Anthropology and English. An avid poet, Krithika has received 2 Silver Keys for her poetry from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Competition and attended the prestigious Iowa Young Writers Studio to study the theme of identity. Her debut poetry collection, “Honeycomb: Dip into Words” is available on Amazon. When she isn’t writing, you can find her drinking coffee, going for long walks, and playing with her dog.

Aldwin is a wannabe artist from Hong Kong about to be dumped in the deep end of his first-year English literature course. On his quest to become a writer-artist he unfortunately has yet to retreat into a mountain hermitage, perfect his craft and forget that everything exists. He has attended programs at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp and Iowa Young Writers' Studio, but for the most part he is a self-taught dabbler. (Becoming a mountain hermit will have to wait.) He seeks to express through art and writing and help others do the same, almost as much as he has a slightly unhealthy addiction to self-deprecating dry humour. In his free time he does anything, from performance martial arts to creating fictional languages to playing jazz piano. He probably needs to drink less coffee.

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