Here on the porch, I let the black
Rainraicat rub its soft body on my leg

while I measured distance
Rainraiof infinite time, measured in second

language. My first language
Rainraiis my second language:

the census form told me my mother
Rainraitongue was an adopted child

and my mother had a tongue
Rainraithat spoke the first language

where a second is measured in 秒.
RainraiThe black cat taught me how to measure

bad luck: how I was born second
Rainraiclass citizen in the womb I chose

not to be born into. A second is also an act
Rainraiof resistance when I tell my grandmother

my gut carries full of unborn jasmine
Rainrairice. The dark soy sauce and vinegar coats

the cooked pork accenting my tongue
Rainraiwhen I praise her cooking

in the first language with my second
Rainrailanguage accent. My grandmother speaks

a smile. But silence is also a language
Rainraiof disappointment: the time my neighbours

asked me where are you from
Rainraiis all the time, but every time,

it always feels like my first
Rainrailanguage: lost. I hope

my grandmother appreciates how
Rainraiimmeasurable I love her

cooking. Which is why I measure the infinite
Rainraiwith my fingers. I measure

not the length of an irrational
Rainrainumber rounded

into a noose but how infinity can be
Rainraia small seedling in my finger—

幼苗 in my mother’s tongue.
RainraiBut with a second language,

I am born with an ear
Rainraithat cannot distinguish

秒 from 苗—
RainraiI hear only the black cat crying.

Miguel Barretto García’s poems have appeared or have been accepted in Rattle, Palette, wildness, RHINO, Magma Poetry, among others. They hold a PhD in decision neuroscience at the University of Zurich and is currently a reader for Adroit. They currently live between Zurich and London.