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母语 -- poetry by Cathy Shang

The beauty of the words that first bubbled out past my baby lips I’m afraid I’m forgetting how to speak.

I don’t remember when memory left me, nor when it occurred to me.

I don’t know whether I should be writing 外婆 or 好婆 or 阿婆

So I send her voice messages instead.

I’m afraid I’d forget what these words mean I think I can only sing five songs now.

I can’t remember the last time I said 我爱你

I can’t remember the last time I called 妈妈.

When I got surgery, the doctor joked I don’t write Chinese often The characters I penned looked like a child’s

Which made sense, because I don’t think I’ve written since fifth grade.

I wish I could still recite 唐诗 the way I can recite Shakespeare

I wish I had learned to pronounce the dialect from my hometown.

I’m afraid the language I grew up with I’m starting grow distant with.


Cathy Shang is a Chinese 17 year old student studying in Shanghai, China in Shanghai American School Pudong Campus. She writes poetry as a form of self expression and in hope of capturing the intensely important emotions of the human experience. Her writing focuses primarily on fleeting dreams and sentiments from stories of her life so far, as well as the weight of silence as a form of communication. In her spare time, she likes to make digital art and animation, and compete in parliamentary debate.

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