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Daniel Seifert


“To have another language
is to possess another soul.”
— Charlemagne

Family Picture by Max Beckmann

Spanish is your favorite uncle
loose-limbed, fun, forgiving.
Tousling your hair and saying vaya,
go for it. Let your bull tongue run.

Mandarin is for haggling,
and barking at strangers
that you saw this cab first
while Beijing bakes under
a sky too perfect, too blue.
French? Those fuques know how
to strut, with sound alone
cool joy in their veins. Each speaker
heir to Charlemagne.
Swedish is for coddling;
hold nursery sound vowels in mouth
to melt all rage away.
The comfort of a lukewarm bath.
Småll joy in extra letters
wearing extra clöthes.

What does it mean to half-possess,
then? To trip down alleys,
happy as a drunk.
Each tongue a different self
tried on for a sweet sentence or two
a peasant in a crown.
An easy way to dream.


About the writer:
Daniel Seifert’s stories have been shortlisted for The Bridport Prize and longlisted for The Letter Review Prize. His writing has been published or forthcoming in Discovery Channel Magazine, Queen’s Quarterly and the anthology Missed Connections: Microfiction from Asia. He is currently undertaking a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore.

Image: Family Picture by Max Beckmann (1884-1950). Oil on canvas. No size specified. 1920. Public domain.

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