Poetry / Teaching / Uncategorized

French Lessons

The air is brilliant today

French grammar infringes

upon the conscious minds

taxing brains in translation

The French teacher is on board

a Canada-bound plane

and has escaped into the vibrant blue skies

away from these sportive sophomores

Outside, you could lasso

a hot air balloon and

drift off to Mars

say, “Salut” to aliens

Tell me, I say….

These kids are like buoys

that have bounced up

from around the neighborhood

trapped 7.5 hours

in a stoic, old school

where eras overlap

and the edges of time collapse

the 80s over the 50s

2017 peaking through a page of the ages

leaving little time tracks

creeping through cracks

that trace along white walls

as if simultaneously mapping

their history, their destiny


They give me their

fed up worksheet stare

the far back row

has drifted into non-French dreams…

other heads are bent

furtively sliding phones under paper

I-phone essays

I catch their “eye drift watch”

smirk, giggle, head tossing

We are old school here

before infrastructure mattered

this red brick building

now an old, elegant lady

who has flirtatiously batted her eyes

at students since 1910

In the sky, the French teacher

breathes deeply, sips his latte

rises up further into the clouds

joie de vivre

Here we are underneath and

engulfed also, by this perfect sky

the third-period bell chimes

the hostages waft up from their seats

as if freed from the Bastille

then skirt into the vast hallways of history

and leave me grappling with Voltaire

30 thoughts on “French Lessons

  1. Ha, they’ll regret not embracing their French lessons someday, but something tells me they’ll remember their perceptive professeur. Your poem made me smile. Happy and safe travels to you!

  2. I´m learning French for two years now… and no end in sight! It´s quite difficult but I won´t give up! It sounds much too nice 😉
    Love the last lines where you compare them to hostages freed from the Bastille! I kind of felt like that after every lesson 😉

    • Thank you, Sarah. I agree, French is such a beautiful language! My 2nd language is Spanish, I drift in and out of fluency since it has been many years since I finished it as a minor in college. I get practice when I teach the bilingual children. Don’t give up on French for sure! 😀

      • Spanish is wonderful too! I´ve learned it about ten years ago at uni but need to constantly practice it otherwise it´s all gone 😉 The funny thing is, when I´m talking with Spanish people they assume I´m French and vice versa! 😉 Really need to learn how to handle these accents 😀
        It´s great that you get your practice from the bilingual kids at school and thus keep your Spanish fluent! 🙂

  3. Really quite superb, LT 🙂 Your Bastille brilliance made me wonder where the Guilotine might feature and then there, in the last line. Voltaire reminded me of Volpone (a play by…Jonson I think) where I regularly lost my head in the bottom of waste paper baskets looking for draft essays… 🙂

  4. I love the timeless aura this paints, Lana. So evocative of school days and reciting our conjugations, dreaming of the weekend, heat and dust motes swirling around the old windows. The romanticism of the French language. Wonderful poem ❤

  5. Wonderful poem Lana. I have to wonder if the languages taught these days are imperative as they were when I was in school. I took French all the way through high school and it has come in handy many times in my travels. I can no longer speak it fluent but I can understand. 🙂

    • I think they are, but it might be harder to persuade students. I know that Spanish really comes in handy for those living in many states. I’m glad you took French, it’s such a beautiful language!

      • Thanks Lana. French was mandatory in junior high school but I loved it and continued through. I think Spanish in the US is as important as French in Canada. 🙂

  6. This is wonderful, Lana. As I enjoyed languages that sense of ennui didn’t overwhelm me in class…now physics was another matter! Lovely writing with some precious phrases that just tickle one’s senses. Just love it!

    • Thanks Annika. The kids told me that the French teacher just takes off, and I like that idea. I like the idea of an eccentric, creative teacher who randomly escspes, although in real life, it may certainly not be the case 😀

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