Poetry by Charles Joseph

Foreign Soil

The other day, I talked to a lady who is from Haiti.

Being Haitian in foreign land, we shared what glued us together.
She told me I left my country too early. So I don’t know anything

I feel cheated each time I remember
She’s right.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’ve given up my country for foreign soil
But, how can I lose something that I never had?

Lately, I’ve been struggling and trying to, once again, have a firm grip on my culture–starting with the language. So I’ve been listening to a lot of Haitian music and reaching out to friends and family back in Haiti to practice my Creole. The language has changed a lot, but the worst part is I’ll never know how much it has changed because I was only 11 when I left the country. It’s mighty young and I was pretty oblivious to most.

If any of you are into learning about cultures or are multilingual, you would understand that learning a language is not just about learning grammar rules. It goes as far as having knowledge of the culture, to learn the language. In Haitian Creole, very strong emphasis is put on knowing the culture to fully get the language.

At 11 years old, I barely knew the culture. Yeah, I spoke the language–as far as what was required of me is concerned–and I had lived in the country for 11 years, but as you get older, more sophisticated thoughts and eloquence are required. And I will argue that it’s only then you really get a language.

After being in the states, scrambling to figure out this lifestyle and fit in, for the past 11 years, sometimes it feels like I’m losing my culture. Starting with the language.

6 responses to “Foreign Soil”

  1. Goosebumps here. Wonderfully said. Yes, keep your language—hold it dear. I am the daughter of Ukrainian immigrants and i totally relate. Sooo…I’ve been learning my language by translating my poetry. Google translator is an awesome tool! Keep learning, Sir Charles! And cheers to you!

    1. Thank you very much!!! Your words put a smile to my face! Wow, that’s a wonderful way of going about learning the language! Phenomenal!! Cheers to you too, friend! 🙂

      1. Alo! Now I’m all smiles. 😊 thank you, friend. Looking forward to reading your new discoveries…

  2. You’re a good man, Charles. I hope that trip went as well as possible.

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