Verboten . . .

My mother tells me of my father’s grandmother.  How Bertha recounted her trip to America.  Reliving the voyage as an old woman.  Describing the effects of the rolling sea.  Of the nausea she experienced as a young woman, heavy with her first child, no more than a child herself, at seventeen.  At the time, my mother thought it odd, funny even, that Der Ma could have recalled an incident that had occurred more than half a century earlier as if she were speaking of a journey made only yesterday.

old wives’ tales
we exchange our stories
with the wind

“Perhaps,” my mother says suddenly, “you come by your gifts naturally.”  She is speaking now of language, not of memory.  “Der Ma was a linguist,” she adds with a flourish.  It is an old, high compliment, passed down through the generations of my family.

But I am not a linguist, I want to say.  Not like Der Ma.  I know a little French, a little Spanish, a little unutterable German, but I don’t deserve such a title. To be known by such a title . . .  What must that be?

forbidden words
on the tip of my tongue . . .
her six-pointed star

A Hundred Gourds, vol. 1, no. 3, June 2012


About Margaret Dornaus

I’m a writer and a teacher, as well as a haiku-doodler. I live in a beautiful woodland setting, surrounded by native oak forests, that inspires me to record haiku snapshots of luna moths and our resident roadrunner, and even an occasional black bear as it hightails it across the top of my road, my mongrel dog barking at its heels as I watch with wonder. My work as a travel writer has appeared in publications from The Dallas Morning News to the Robb Report. You can find examples of my travel writing–as well as excerpts from a travel memoir I’m working on–at my other WordPress site, Travelin’ On. What more than that do you need to know? Only that I started this blog with an eye toward collaboration. Got a haiku? Send it my way. . . . I’m all about new visions & voices. Best, Margaret
This entry was posted in A Hundred Gourds, Family, Haibun, Haiku, Haiku-doodle and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Verboten . . .

  1. angie werren says:

    what a beautiful story (haibun) 🙂

  2. A wonderful story, beautifully told. I love the jux between ‘linguist’ and forbidden words. Your words are brave and go deep, Margaret!

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