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THE CHARM OF FRENCH CLASS

i become a stone,
   still a leader,
but translation
transforms me,
   as i learn
      “le crayon est rouge.”

“Je m’appelle Chantal.”
enchanted by my “nom français.”
a shy child, changed by her name.

my friend and i
on different sides.
she’s critical of Madame Gold.
   i rather enjoy
      the running jump
         into “Lac d’Aiguebelette.”*

we whisper fun, of one boy,
with the crooked nose.
      i lose my charm
   an anchor
clinging to the radiator.

french class particularly enchanting
as if we travel across the vast sea —
explore the Louvre and Eiffel Tower,
the catacombs and Notre Dame.

crèpes in class
tastier than home ec.
Madame Gold calls on Kat-a-leen.
She’s not happy, a bit.

but i smile, and wait a long long while
before i visit, for real, the city of lights.

now in my sixties, i learn much more
of the sordid history of Paris
and its close-by venture to Versaille.

but all our hometown places
have their secrets, their horrors,
their orgies, and battles.

God keeps beauty in the steeple
and the turquoise sky and the lake
reminding me of “paradis.”**

french class, history — a loft
for an awkward child.
perhaps that’s why Madame Gold
was so enchanting,
not a bit of a witch like Kathleen thought.

2/25/2021

Lac d’Aiguebelette pronounced “lack-day-boo-lette”
Paradis pronounced “pear-a-dee”

Copyright © Kim Rodrigues

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