by Jenny Lester

Last year I started to learn Gaelic

I won’t be explaining, “why?” though.

Your Anglo-centric disdain 

Will have to remain 

Unsatisfied for now. 

Instead I’m creating a space to be OK 

With how slowly I am attaining adequacy.

Right now, I’m just kind of nowhere near.

And it is clear I have a real fear of mediocrity.

It might sound vain, but

Usually I am quite good at things.

But apparently I have a clumsy tongue

And disorganised brain.

I’m failing to train them to even feign

The same standard as a 6 year old. 

I’ve not felt that shame since high school PE 

And high school PE Jenny was free to fake a sore knee.

But I can’t falsify a migraine, cause, well, I paid for this pain.

And I while I’m not aiming for nets or goals

It still feels like a miss when I forget

To lenite kiss or when the r rolls.


I swear when I am speaking Gaelic, my French is so good

I remember words that otherwise I never would.

See I’ll be reaching for, “cù brèagha agus each”

But all that comes to tongue is, “Ou est la bibliotheque?” 


It’s cruidhe to be ceàrr all the time 

There are no gold stars for almost

And I can’t boast about, “close!”

And even though I’m engrossed, it’s slow progress 

My life is so full of mess, there is little space to do as well as I could

In this rat race if I’m not already good then why am I trying? 

It’s terrifying to be shit but it is also untying.

I want to be someone who permits myself mistakes

That I would forgive of anyone else

Stop looking for perfection when happy, is right there.

I am not perfect at that yet, but at least I can begin.

Maybe Gaelic is the language I can learn to love myself in.