Deborah Rocheleau is an English major, Chinese minor, and all-around language fanatic. Her writing has been published by Tin House, 100 Word Story, Flights, and Thema, among others. She is currently writing her third contemporary young adult novel.
Immigration by Deborah Rocheleau
Every word wants to make it to English
It’s very accommodating, they’ve heard
once you’re settled
Piñata made it
For Tundra, though, things were harder
coming from an obscure background
raised on the snow of Norway
among reindeer herders
He longed to immigrate, even as the dream
seemed a melted ocean away.
Then came a political shift, someone pointing out the benefits of a diverse language
how thought was limited by a starved vocabulary
one word stifling the imagination
While speakers of languages with six words for snow
skated icy circles around their one-word counterparts
The idea, though faulty, inspired measures
to stockpile words
snatched here and there from foreign languages.
Thus Tundra arrived
and established himself in the scientific jargon
of one of the world’s most widely spoken language
He has arrived, only to find himself alone, the sole immigrant
from Sami, his mother tongue.