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My Phone Call to France
Phyllis Wax

and right away I’m stuck.
Do I respond allo or bonjour?
The dated French I learned
in high school scrapes the sides
of the tunnel leading from then to now,
dropping verbs and adjectives along the way. 
I limp behind, stumbling over them,
mangling some in the process.
Finally I mutter Parlez vous anglais? meaning   
please help— extend your hand,
help me over that curb! But no.
And then
My tongue is semi-paralyzed.
The phrases I practiced falter, can’t make it
up the steps to enter. This conversation
is not accessible. 
© by Phyllis Wax.
Used with the author’s permission.

Phyllis Wax is passionate about poetry and likes exotic places such as Thailand, Viet Nam, Turkey, Timbuktu, Machu Picchu, and even Door County, Wisconsin. When she's at home in Milwaukee, she writes from a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. An admitted sudoku addict, Phyllis maintains neither blog nor web site, but she does welcome comments from readers at

Post New Comment:
I have known Phyllis' poetry for decades and it never disappoints! I look forward to each new addition. Susan W.
Posted 07/01/2012 03:54 PM
Terrific poem, Phyllis and such fun to read. Though I know that sinking feeling. Remember it from being lost in Provence. Fractured Italian helped. Allo.
Posted 06/27/2012 09:14 PM
Great, fun poem! Doris
Posted 06/27/2012 12:21 PM
Tyler Gabrysh:
One can feel the conversation breakdown by the change in sudden rhythm, and then a return; 'This conversation is not accessible.' is then perfect!
Posted 06/27/2012 12:12 PM
Oui, oui! C'est vrai! Rusty too, but maybe correct!
Posted 06/27/2012 10:59 AM
This poem nails it. This is exactly how I felt on a recent trip to Mexico.
Posted 06/27/2012 10:50 AM
We have an inside joke about George's first phone conversation with a French woman in Avignon. Not understanding anything the woman was saying, George wanted to end the "conversation." The only thing that entered his overwhelmed mind to end the call was a cheerful "Avignon!" We laugh every time we think of it. Your charming poem brought it all back. Thank you!
Posted 06/27/2012 10:31 AM
ed werstein:
Great poem as usual, Phyllis.
Posted 06/27/2012 07:41 AM
Marilyn L Taylor:
Who doesn't know that sinking feeling? Wonderful poem, Phyllis!
Posted 06/27/2012 07:32 AM
Merci beaucoup, Phyllis! Cheers, Mandi
Posted 06/27/2012 07:24 AM
Around here, Bronx, "Allo" is Spanish for "Hello."
Posted 06/27/2012 06:27 AM

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