Memory in a Foreign Language

By Anni Liu

     weekday afternoons I walk from school to the English
                    class in the foreign     language university

                                 the air is the color of amber                  or it is only
     this way in memory                   which has stained it
                    like a film        remastered

                    here I learn a language           is the way someone you love
     looks when speaking it              and English is my mother

moving her face in ways she does not at home
     long pursed O’s             wide smile       that’s almost a grimace

     the lesson underway:                 sounds with the letter L
I mimic the sounds     my voice swallowed         by the class

     I stretch               my mouth and feel the shape of what
                    I don’t yet understand           chanting                 lack

     luck      lock                     lack      luck
                                                                     lock      and what happens next

     I don’t remember yet

Reprinted from Border Vista (Persea Books, 2022). All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.