My mother tongue


My mother tongue is Dutch,

but my sister and my

brother, even my own mother

they all speak English now.

And I? I speak and write

in Dutch.

Although once in a while

I try to write a poem

in the language my family

speaks now.

So that the daughters of my mother

whom I never got to know,

my sister’s husband

and their children, my brother’s

wife, their children too,

can read

what I have to say.

So although they are far away

they’ll get to know me too.



Joke van der Ark

Nr. 100b – november 1990