Regular Poem: Accents

22 Apr

when I was in high school
studying French
on the third floor
where the radiators overheated the rooms,
and the sticky closeness of other teen bodies
was not as concentrated as
it was in the chemistry rooms also on the third floor,

we would listen–
for listening practice–
to tapes–
yes, cassettes–

and on these tapes would be
fluid voices talking French at us
in a variety of French accents.

My favorite was always the Belgian dude.

His voice was not melodious and elegant
like the Parisians
or swift and striking like the Swiss
or clanging and clipped like the Quebecois.

He sounded as though he had just eaten
something gigantic
probably full of dairy.

He sounded happy and large,
and his vowels and consonants therefore
sounded happy and large
and quite chewed on.

When I think of him
it is with an irrational affection,
and he also brings to mind

when non-Americans affect an
American accent:

It’s all Rs.

And so I imagine him–
I imagine him
as a big older man with a big older man’s mustache–
somewhere in Belgium–
in a field of Brussels sprouts a lone tape player and mustachioed man–
practicing listening to English,
and he’s frowning as some posh dame
from England talks at him in English.

And suddenly
my voice is there.
And it’s all Rs.

And he smiles and loves me
as I love him.

2 Responses to “Regular Poem: Accents”

  1. silverscreenings 22 April 2013 at 7:51 PM #

    I love this. It is full of charm. C’est tres bien!

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