There’s no need to burst into song.

Just open your mouth – cautious

at first, expect it to creak, to whine

its resistance, but open it will,

like a drawer on old runners, full

of lost things. Don’t be afraid.

From the red of your parched

mouth, unstick your tongue,

let it play in your mouth.

You don’t know yet

what may pour from that place:

sputters only, a trickle, a thread,

or - stoppered so long - a burst

of old bloodied speech from the last

words your ancestor spoke.

Be patient. Let that first word lift

from the ledge of your lips, wait for as long

as it takes, believe your tongue knows.

One word as sharp as a sliver of ice

can cut to a knife-edge of knowing,

but whatever once was, this is now.

You are allowed. Open your mouth and

From Surrender (Five Leaves Press, 2022)

© Cathy Grindrod