(1969 / Port Elizabeth)

The Sound of My Name

To step into another language
direct the breath
swell the mouth with vowels
feel the jaw configure itself around the word
write another script on the tongue

Russian
A woman learning Russian describes
the new inclination of her head,
her chest, her hands,
the muscular changes in the tongue
the way sibilance tightens
the upper lip
like bee stings around the jaw
the movement of air over her throat
a subtle invasion
taking possession of her mouth

Arabic
I teach you to say the first letter of my name,
a sound between g and h,
for which there is no letter in English.

Breathe in,
take a sip of water,
make a flat oval of the lips,
breathe out.
Remember the sound of the exhalation.

Clear the throat.

Between the two is the start of my name.

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Comments (3)

My name stood out amoungs the others,you have a way of making one think about use of words ,Iovely
Beautiful poem. You wrote poem about language that is a wonderful language itself.
Beautiful piece of poetry, well articulated and nicely penned with insight. Lovely poem on phonetics elegantly brought forth with conviction. Thanks for sharing Gabeba. Please read my poem POETIC MASTERPIECE.