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Japanese Love Letter

ink balloons

from right to left

hold still, I beg,

I cannot read you without help.

though I am native to the sea,

my language has a foreign body

shaped like a whale’s tongue.

I can blubber water in any dialect,

ply you out of a namaste or salaam.

I mask respect for belonging when I look you up

with open, meaningful hands,

but my tongue has the weight of an elephant,

hooking me downwards and back like a draining tub.

my voice is a trumpet of homecoming

and a war cry of departure

but no one’s home

to say hello or goodbye,

so I float between the words and spaces,

stifling blue tears,

which are sad in every language.