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Beyond Our Common Ground

My English
is shaped by a life lived in small-town Vermont.
It carries the 1970’s in its vowels
and its sentences trace my mother’s footsteps.

It left this country with her
and grew in me on Swedish soil.

The girl across from me
at my kitchen table,
sunlit face puffy from sleep

Her English is another life.

Her English is rebellion and southern mountains

Her English is lace-up boots
and pride parades

and I want to walk in it.
Live in it
Learn her language by heart.

I want to take her hand and lead her into mine,

walk with her in my Swedish
and tell her the meaning
and memory of every word.

For that I’d need a lifetime,
and I’ve realized

I don’t mind.