French Lesson

Jackie Strawbridge

"Non. Imagine you
Are chewing chocolate."
She dropped her tongue
And chin, clapped
Her chalked hands and
Pointed to her mouth.
"Aah," she oozed. Paused
And then repeated, "aah,"
Then "ooh, ee," letting
The thick vowels drip.
Swinging her jaw
Like a sedated horse
Trying to graze. "Essayez!"

"S'il vous plait, madame,
Je cherche le canal."
She blinked, puffed out
Her cheeks. "Comment?"
I sighed and tried again,
Still spitting impossible
Syllables like unpopped
Corn kernels. "Le canal?"
"Il est où?" I swung
Out my arms, rowing
An invisible boat,
To convey water.
"Oh!" She clapped.
"Vous voulez dire
"Canal," vowels
Gurgling from her nose.
She raised her palms
And together we sang,
"Canal, canal." She nodded
Down a dim-lit road
And I approached it.


About the Author

Jackie Strawbridge received her BA in English and French from Boston University. She currently lives in Paris.