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Immigrants: The Second Generation

Kevin Irie


The streets are
always crowded on
weekends, wide enough
to hold the world—
Asians, Indians,
Europeans as well.

One boy grows from his mother's grip—
he's held that tightly.
Together they travel
in search of cheap pants,

the mother cursing
the high price of denim,
leaving it to the boy
to translate her ire
into English tact

for the smiling salesman
who politely informs them that, no,
there is nothing else.
English is standard currency here.

The boy knows that;
he hoards his small allotment
of words like
a miser his pennies,
the one allowance no one can confiscate.

Out here, he is
the word and the way; his first
language fell away like milk teeth.
Only his mother,
stranded by his side,

still speaks in the old tongue alone.
A few English phrases
glint in her mouth
like fillings place there
by other hands: a foreign substance
given for her own good:
hard, and impacted for life.



Kevin Irie's works copyright © to the author.


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