Sonia Greenfield: In the Vernacular of the Mother Tongue

Sonia Greenfield: In the Vernacular of the Mother Tongue

 In the Vernacular of the Mother Tongue


In the dream, a third of my son’s

tongue hung by a flap of skin,

and I thought I would do him the favor

of snipping it. In my solar plexus,

a careful fear as I worked along the seam,

pink skin transparent, until the detached part

sat in my palm. Then I couldn’t find it,

and his dental consonants were slurred

by the tip missing against his teeth. When I

woke, I knew I had made a mistake. I tried

to sleep back into a different narrative,

one where I took him to a doctor

who reattached the hanging, wet fruit

of language. Some dreams are not hard

to interpret—that my son’s words are ever

tripped by his un-giving mouth or stuck

in a loop in his head like a Rolodex spinning

too fast to pull the card that says

what he needs to say. Also, that I’m always

at least half-convinced every decision

I make for him must be

the wrong one.

Sonia Greenfield was born and raised in Peekskill, New York, and her book, Boy with a Halo at the Farmer's Market, won the 2014 Codhill Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a variety of places, including in the 2018 and 2010 Best American Poetry, Antioch Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, and Willow Springs. Her chapbook, American Parable, won the 2017 Autumn House Press/Coal Hill Review prize and is now available. Her collection of prose poems, Letdown, is forthcoming in 2020 with White Pine Press as part of the Marie Alexander Series. She lives with her husband and son in Hollywood where she edits the Rise Up Review and co-directs the Southern California Poetry Festival.