I say the word

so slowly

it feels foreign.

Ss-umb, my father replies,

the movement

of his mouth is


as it always is

when pronouncing



Th, not Ss,

I bite my tongue to illustrate.




I repeat thumb

so many times

my tongue feels sore.


Thumb is a reflex now,

the tongue

naturally finds a groove

between the teeth,

inviting a puff of air

into my mouth’s cavity.


In perfect rhythm,

the lips close together,

and sound

resonates, resting

on the m

a quarter note longer

due to the presence of b

which is a remnant,

an aftertaste in the mouth,


but recognized for

its presence.


Thumb is

rich, warm, familiar

to me.



it is a barrier

between cultures:

“th” does not exist

in Chinese,

a language with

smaller sphere

in the mouth,

not big, open, wide

like English.


Thumb is

the sum

of what he cannot be


because his body

will not let him,

confined by

an aged tongue


to inhabit

larger spaces.



I repeat again.



He smiles, Better yeah, sweetie?


Yeah, okay. Good job Dad.


I want to yank his tongue out

And replace it with a new one.


This poem was written for the creative writing class that I am in this semester! The prompt was for us to write about a non-semantic aspect of a word– either with regards to the way it sounds, its appearance, etc. I actually thought of this poem while on a run in the woods– it was a pretty meditative and cool experience– I felt like such a badass poet 😉

Hope you guys enjoy. Please leave some comments ❤


  1. You’re creating very nice poems in your creative writing class. I had a creative writing class last semester and towards the end we had an assignment that was submission for publication to any place we wanted, online or print, it’s a great way to expose your poetry or stories. Maybe that’s something you’ll be doing throughout the semester, or you can just do it whenever you’d like, if you haven’t done it already. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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