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.
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.