• alannacronk7

Potty training

The old house in muwu

Had a guest bathroom

It is actually the only bathroom I remember using there.

I was not quite tall enough to turn on the light,

So that place in my mind is only lit by the sun

The light was blue and the walls were gray.

And In the soft, unburdened way that children do

I recall looking at myself in the silver mirror and thinking:

“I am little.”

I remember glancing at my training potty, once.

It was blue and green—maybe,

But I never remember using it.

Potty training is something I did

At the place where my infancy ends and my memory begins,

I guess.

That toddler who lived in muwu has nothing in common with me.

She is only someone who sat on a train that led to me,

Or maybe she drove it.

Some things happened to me, some things I chose.

But still, muwu is the place where I grew from a baby into someone or other,

Someone who can walk and talk and knows how to use the bathroom.

I imagine using the bathroom was something that took effort at one point,

But maybe I was a fast learner.

Both of my parents insist even as a tumbling toddler,

I would grab a fresh diaper and hand it to them

Removing the dirty one myself when I needed changing.

In any case, now using the bathroom is not something I really think about.

I just go, when, you know,

I gotta.

There is this folder of folders my elder handed me,

A set of vocabulary words in mitsqanaqan̓

Modules to teach students of the language—

A thought: I don’t like calling it a dead language.

There are no living “native” speakers but,

Dead things stay that way,

And I see the potential for mitsqanaqan̓ to be used again.

Maybe it is just sleeping or resting or stored up in the attic

But those analogies obscure the bloody reasons why it is no longer spoken—

Either way, there was this folder of folders,

And in it, I read one marked “defecating”


Then again, it makes sense.

In the same way I needed potty training,

During the infancy of this language’s rebirth,

Its learners need to learn everything

We do not have the privilege of having these skills set up for us

By past versions of ourselves from a time we do not remember

So, we must awkwardly sit through

An elder giving us worksheets

That neatly spell out


“I need to defecate.”

It is the work that this folder of folders represents

That makes me feel justified

In imagining a future version of my tribe

Where the children who look in the mirror

Can recite the bathroom prayer

And think the soft, unburdened thoughts:

ktapi he’sikʰepmu. (I am entering the bathroom )

iti, lak̓ip mitsqanáqan̓. (Here, I only speak Mitsqanaqan)

’iti, ts̓alitpe lo’ka’aɬhašǝ’ǝš! (Here, the language is alive,)

latšaqšitítap! (May it continue!)

And I hope they feel the need to ask an elder

Why they chant, “May it continue”

Because maybe if we are lucky

They will not know any other way.

13 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

A poem discussing the cultural differences between colonial and native language.

A poem contemplating disillusionment with traditional English literature.