Ah Ma

What is distance
but the aubade

of an ocean—: a body—:
a mother tongue?

I watched you unclench
your jaw, dragging morphemes

across the ocean,
to teach me the difference

between ná and nà.

How I recoiled from
each inflection like

the barrel
of a gun,

where each word
was crushed

like a blossom
in my hand.

How you shuddered
each diphthong,

watching your only grandchild
drift cordless from the motherland.

At the epicenter
of your chest,

the size of
a gunshot wound.