Sea City Museum: first return after emigration

by Brian Evans-Jones

Sea City Museum: first return after emigration
          (Southampton, England)

She thinks our son’s first word
is “Mom”:
I think it’s “Mum,”
the long vowel not USnasal but UKprim.
We dispute it
as if it were Kashmir.

When we left our borders
we made a new thing: my DNA
pioneering in her strange country.
But to him I can’t call her “Mommy.”
Words are coastlines, edges,
for they all

cut something off,
and a nation is a language
with an army.
Petrol for gas, garden for yard,
pennies for cents: mine’s redcoated
and doomed.

So there are no words on the newsreel
where the peasant from Russia waves
the Stars and Stripes like mad
and with the other hand lifts high his baby
they made it, she is going to be
a country, a language: he can’t speak.