By Mary Nguyen, Seattle intern
English doesn’t come as easily when you’re not born in the United States.
It’s a struggle.
I’m afraid to make mistakes.
I’m afraid of looking stupid.
I’m afraid of people’s scrunched up faces when they are confused at what I’m saying.
I hear you.
You do not have to talk louder.
That doesn’t make me understand you any better.
It makes me angry.
You have no idea how hard this is.
You were born here.
You have the ability to communicate with other people.
You don’t even appreciate it, do you?
Walk where I walk.
Talk two words at a time like me.
Pause and let out a huff when you can’t find the words.
Close your eyes and try to gather your thoughts.
Tôi không hiểu.
Can’t you see?
I’m trying here.
Cough syrup for a meal
So baby will sleep all day in Mommy’s arms.
No feeling at all
Finally, Mommy can start a day’s work.
Mommy doesn’t clean or cook or sit behind a desk
Mommy’s office is the streets
Mommy’s clients are the tourists
Mommy holds the baby and begs for money.
Mommy has perfected her look
Nothing shields baby from the harsh sun.
Mommy has even learned English for her job
Mommy says, “Baby, for baby.”
What a great show Mommy puts on.
How lovingly Mommy holds the baby
A mother’s gentle touch on her sweet baby’s back.
Reaching out with her bamboo hat for offerings, Mommy gives a gentle smile
A few cents richer, Mommy nods in thanks.