Rotten English

There are no words

for this English, squeezed

and shriveled

in my molasses throat.

The white crust stuck corners

of my lips barely pass

each viscous embolus.

Heavy-tongued, I have no choice

but to let it smear,

in dense and clumsy strokes,

my ripened feelings.


In dreams I have called out to you

in beautiful English, each word settled

slowly while you blushed

and listened.

But tonight I sensed your impatience,

staccato beats, not clumsy like mine,

but hardly waiting. My answer came

like in some nightmare, stifled,

too quiet, and far too late,

my rotten English breaking

on your sharp enamel.

Tamar Rubin is a resident physician specializing in pediatrics at the University of Alberta. There is no shortage of inspiration at work, but she wishes she had more time to write about it.