Thank you for speaking English

grayscale photo of man with taqiyah cap

Photo by Himanshu Raj on

“For isn’t it odd that the only language I have in which to speak of this crime is the language of the criminal who committed the crime?” 

Jamaica Kincaid


When we whipped your brown skin red for praying in Urdu

thank you for begging in broken English for your life.

When crows made you sway from the lightening tree

thank you for the Assam fields in porcelain China.


When we tortured Connor Murphy for stealing bread for his baby

thank you for renouncing Victoria in Gaelic and pink spit.

When Irish bloodlines froze to white statues on gorse

thank you for the thorn in the mad lions paw.


When we soaked the atlas blood red of empire and savage gentlemen

thank you for fighting us, then in defeat fighting for us.

When we called you British enough to die for us,

thank you for being deported, a subject of nil.


Thank you to the Greek doctor in Kavos for speaking English –

that night when I got drunk and cut my knee on shingle.

Thank you for translating the medication I misread,

sorry for the English lads who pissed on your floor.


Thank you to the Pakistani therapist who put me back on the right track.

Thank you for lighting camomile leaves when I wept about my Dad.

Thank you for allowing my frailties for becoming my strengths,

sorry for your Grandmothers exile, once British then Indian, then number.


Thank you to all the countries raped by England for still speaking English,

sorry for the pious Solicitor from London who thinks you speak it badly,

sorry that some of us say you’re Indian when you are from Malawi

like calling a Scouser a Cockney only you would get battered for it.

One Response to “Thank you for speaking English”

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