Speech Comes After Swallowing by Meena Kandasamy

after many afternoons on my knees
i pinned him down to lychee
with a woody waft of liquorice.
but centuries into servitude
how does a language taste and
tabulate another mighty one?

does this tongue feel under stubborn flesh,
the haste and hardness of the other?
learn to fight its reflexes against force?
do power yoga, twisting/turning,
twisting/turning, twisting/turning?
does it read and research forbidden
fetishes? wait for the sacred wetness?
or does it grow dry too soon?

pleasure-filled, does it clap to applaud,
squeal in delight, or, take shelter
in open-lipped, vowel-based,
aspirated exclamation?

does it remember the trips it took
across this terrain of shape?
does it dream of choices?

does it matter at all, to these tired tongues,
that in one sucking, long-dead language
semen was named after
the swallowing?

by Meena Kandasamy


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