Deralyn Owen is a Filipino-American born and raised in Boise, Idaho. Currently, she’s a junior studying Health Studies with an emphasis in Health Informatics and Information Management at Boise State. After being introduced to poetry by great English teachers in Junior High, she found an ever-growing enthusiasm and has kept writing since. Outside of academics, Dearlyn likes to cross-stitch, make music and try to keep her plants alive (usually in vain).
She is embarrassed by her English, but even more so
by her Bisaya. My mother never taught me how to speak
the tongue of her mother; she was scared it would make
my English worse, that it would dilute my Americanness. I once
told my Filipino friends my mother’s maiden name and they
started laughing. Sorry, you just sound so American when
you say it. I am embarrassed by my clunky Western tongue,
one that cannot pronounce
Pwede ko nimo Can you help
Pasayloa ko. I’m sorry.
My sister comes home from work early and catches me with
Bisaya on my lips. Shame morphs to silence; I look over the words
noiselessly. The letters are familiar but their combinations are not. I
have tried learning their shapes so many times, cracked lips whispering
naglibog, naglibog, naglibog until my throat is dry. The other day,
someone asked me where I was from. I told them I was
Filipino-American. The phrase coated my lips, thick and viscous,
and burnt them red.