lenten journal: first language


Sorry for my absence. I have been reading The Art of Noticinng: 131 Ways to Spark Creativity, Find Inspiration, and Discover the Joy in the Everyday by Rob Walker. in a chapter called Discover the Big Within the Small” was this quote:

“Every household has a first language, a kind of language of the house.”–Alex Kalman

first language

I was almost twelve years old
before I met someone who had
lived in the same house his whole life
my family spoke the language
of motion, of doing, of next things
and though I have picked up
a few phrases of how to stay
unsettled is my vernacular
forty-five houses in sixty-four years

what I learned of home happened
around the dinner table
I was almost twelve years old
when I realized not everyone
ate breakfast and dinner together
the addresses changed but not
our daily breaking of bread
no matter where we lived
I felt at home at the table

to be human is to be a polyglot
life demands multilinguality
(we even make up words)
we stumble through sentences
whole paragraphs of existence
to do what we have to do
love is learning new languages
and saying what we know best
in ways others can hear




  1. This is a great “noticing,” and something I have observed but never processed. In our family we always sat down to eat. It is ingrained in me and my 7 siblings. So, just imagine what our kitchen/dining area would have been like standing…..sort of? Mothers know best. 🙂

Leave a Reply