I speak with the forked tongue of colony.
--Eavan Boland, “The Mother Tongue”
My grandfather said life was better under the British.
He was a man who begrudged his words but he did say this.
I was born after the British left.
They left an alphabet book in my house, the same one they left at school.
I was good in English.
I was the only one in class who knew “bedridden” does not mean lazy.
I was so good in English they sent me to England
where I proved my grandfather right
until I was almost sent down for plagiarism I knew was wrong
and did not know was wrong, since where I came from everyone plagiarized.
I learned to attribute everything I wrote.
It is not easy.
Sometimes I cannot find out who first wrote the words I wrote.
Sometimes I think I wrote the words I wrote with such delight.
Often the words I write have confusing origins
and none can tell what belongs to the British, my grandfather or me.