KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 10: Fall 2018
Tanka prose: 218 words [R]

Mother Tongue

by Claire Everett

Nothing. Neither a letter, nor a phone call. Yet for every circumstance, I can predict just what she’d do. In one or another of my children certain well-worn expressions have lighted on a new face. Seized by the red mist or frog-throat of an emotion, it’s one of her turns of phrase I find in my mouth.

years of silence
while all around me
mothers speak wisdom
to their offspring...
the kinship of trees

As the years pass, these are the wide arms I seek, these the listening ears. Bare or green, russet or gold, they keep their counsel, but long I have thought they only speak through wind or rain. Who am I to say what is shared between darkling roots; what histories are written in the grain?

when I’m everything
she made me...
the tongue-and-groove
of heirloom words


Author’s Note: Research by ecologists such as Suzanne Simard has concluded that trees can no longer be seen as purely separate entities; that they not only communicate with each other but also mother trees can recognise their own seedlings and colonise their families with bigger mycorrhizal networks. They give up root-space to allow their young to grow and when injured, or dying, pass on seeds of wisdom to their young by way of carbon messages.


—Published previously in Contemporary Haibun Online (April 2017, Volume 13, Number 1); appears here with author’s permission


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