Gratitude For Broken English (For my Father)

Jack Jorge Fernandes, “Gratitude for Broken English”

(Please note, I deleted my first submission after my friends coaxed me into taking a leap and posting something more emotional. I'm glad that I did. My father loved me reading it to him.)


I am grateful for father’s words.

“Broken English,” my mother called it.

To me, it was just how Dad spoke.


He’d come home from slaving hours in the hot factory.

“I have faith on you,” he’d say.

Before my big tests he’d remind me,

“No one is more better than you.”


My father peppered the concrete

with seeds of good-will.

Through broken English they took root within the cracked pavement,

and blossomed into acts of beauty kissed delicately by the divine.


Gratitude for my father’s sacrifice fueled my studies,

and at the pinnacle of Earth’s beautiful ironies,

‘Unbroken English’ became my best subject.

Each day I carried my books like the dreams of my father,

tied tightly in a knapsack slung over my shoulders.

“You are the champion,” Dad would tell me.


I rarely was awake when dad left, in his coveralls,

the milky stars still cradled by the maternal embrace of the darkened sky.

My father’s broken English made me whole,

as I proudly learned and understood.


In June, days before I enter my 22nd year of life,

I will present my father with our college degree.

It is as much his as it is mine.

Before I leave for Law School,

I will hold my father’s hand,

Just as he held mine when I learned how to walk.


“You are the greatest,” I will tell him, eyes shining.

“I couldn’t have done it without your faith in me.

I am proud to be your son.

I am grateful.”


I was formed by father’s words.

“Broken English,” my mother called it.

But to me, it was just how Dad spoke.

To me, it was how Dad created.


Artwork by Marissa Cohen, a friend

This poem is about: 
My family
My community
Guide that inspired this poem: 


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