Mother Tongue

John have you got your umbrella
I think it’s going to rain. Can you
come play with me? If I told you
once I told you a hundred times.

Things here just aren’t the same without
Mother, I will now sign your
affectionate brother James. Oh
what am I going to do? So

I said to her I said if he
thinks she’s going to stand for that but
then there’s his arthritis poor thing
and no work. I love you. I hate

you. I hate liver. Joan dear did
you feed the sheep, don’t just stand around
mooning. Tell me what they said, tell
me what you did. Oh how my feet

do hurt. My heart is breaking. Touch
me here, touch me again. Once bit
twice shy. You look like what the cat
dragged in. What a beautiful night.

Good morning, hello, goodbye, have
a nice day, thanks. God damn you to
hell you lying cheat. Pass the soy
sauce please. Oh shit. Is it grandma’s

own sweet pretty dear? What am I
going to tell her? There there don’t
cry. Go to sleep now, go to sleep….
Don’t go to sleep!

Taken from a commencement address given by Ursula le Guin at Bryn Mawr College, 1986. Submitted by Jim.