Stephanie Johnson

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Germinating Tongue

I left
before the twang
in the teeth of my kin
took root in my vowels
but not before it settled just
enough to plant itself in the furrows of my palate
Tiny seed-coat syllables
shallow-buried and dormant
showered with infrequent phone calls, visits,
conversations plowing divide
between cadent sprawling drawl and
my words
overrun by invasive
speech sown among the latent
dialect of home
My tongue trips over tangled language
foreign accents choke out the known so I
till, toil, cultivate my own
and wait
for sounds to crop up on summer city nights—
abruptly reckoning with my lips for a split second
reaping prized produce, crisp slang
—in jaw-cracked shells of sunflower seeds spat
broken, empty upon gritty cement
—in the rough shuck of a corn husk
torn from golden ear
shoved from its shank into a heap of scrap
I wait
for mornings when I walk outside to join you on the porch swing
dusty rays of slanted sun mingle with the breeze
coaxing sleepy vowels to sprout slowly
climbing through exchanges of good mornin’,
winding spirals around our legs as they
stretch and bend in unison
but these inflections are only interruptions, not fully grown
not thick enough to feel along the back of my teeth with my tongue
never heavy enough to shoot through the soles of my feet into blacktop streets.

©2014 Stephanie Nicole Johnson

Stephanie Nicole Johnson earned her MA in English at Liberty University and enjoys sharing her love for language with her composition students at Northern Virginia Community College. She dabbles in poetry, and takes mint chocolate chip ice cream seriously. She is probably too dependent on coffee, but grading piles of papers comes with its vices.

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One Response to Stephanie Johnson

  1. dave says:

    Sown no more than just below the surface of spring, watered and warmed on day 24, to grow into a fine minty read. 😉

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