With the Power I Hold in My Tongue

The first sweet taste of language in my mouth was Arabic, from rolling my Rs to training my throat to say the غ and ع. I only knew one lover until the day my mother dressed me in the pink dress, which was our school uniform. She put my hair up in the tiniest bun, with curls falling out on all sides, and took me to the school I’d know for thirteen years. “Bonjour, chérie!”, my teacher greeted us right by the entrance. I refused to let go of my mother’s hand, not recognizing the letters rolling out of my teacher’s mouth. 

At nine years old, I was finally able to greet my cousins who lived in America, with the only language they’d known then. “How are you?” my words would come out hiding behind a shy giggle. 

I never knew the power of languages until I mastered them. It’s not only about what you say but how you say it. 

I fell in love with poetry at seventeen, the first poems I’d ever written were in English. To me, it was a power move, knowing that my parents can’t read them. My journal was no different. I conquered the English language, not only to communicate with my family overseas but to hide my teenage secrets from my parents. 

Like any other teenager, I wrote about love and heartbreak, thinking this is what love is, or this is how it feels to have your heartbroken. Little did I know.

In reality, my first true love was Damascus, I never knew my deep feelings for her until the day I left her bleeding. It was love and heartbreak all at once. 

The hardest thing anyone can do is turn their back on their most precious thing when it needs them the most. But the choice was not mine, it was already made for me. 

But you know? Love is about sacrifice, if I hadn’t left Damascus, I wouldn’t have been able to talk about its beauty and tell stories of an old city and weary people. 

My very first published poem was “Mother Tongue”, I received the email while I was hosting at a restaurant I’d worked at for years. I rushed to the bathroom, and picked the empty stall to check my phone “Congratulation!”. I couldn’t contain my smile for the rest of my shift. 

I spent so much time on my first poem, it was about language, my first taste of sweetness. That’s when I knew that I possess a power not many do, and that is the power to show the world from my point of view. 

With writing, I want to redefine, empower, amplify, and expand.