Maxine Rose Munro

Mother Tongue

If I were to speak with my mother’s tongue
my words would reach up out of the land,
rooted deep

in the language she learned sat at the knees
of Viking descendants – the soil pressed
against her bare skin: möld,

a word that grew in her fertile mouth. To be
dirty rich was möld-rich. To be nearly buried
by the drink, möld-drocht.

Her word for the Earth: Aert. Spoken with
an ai, a rolling r, and a tih. Compact. Solid.
And if she were to say

from all the earths, well this was her way
of saying everywhere. Stuck and grounded
both aert-fast.

And that was how she looked to me, a woman
who couldn’t work with abstracts, their gush,
their drift from the source.

But my father, ah now, my father, he was
one who was soothed by this. His words
were dreams of the sea.

Maxine Rose Munro is a Scottish poet who writes in both English and her native Shetlandic Scots. She is widely published in the UK and beyond, both in print and online, and her work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Find her here