Yes, I have mixed up my avoirs and my êtres and confused La Gare for La Guerre and, once, having forgotten my glasses, I explained “Je ne suis pas mes lunettes” rather than “Je n’ai pas…..”
Nevertheless, when in France, I always have a go at speaking French even though it’s meant I’ve been laughed at on more than one occasion. La honte!
At the beach bar a man, half my age, is centimètres
from my sanded breasts, as beautiful as the café crème
between us, and what I still call centimes
lie blurred and glittered on my upturned palm.
“I am not my pair of glasses,” I confide.
What have I learned
since a driver shouted down his bus
that I had asked him for a ticket
to The War?
That I would rather mime my girlfriend’s diarrhoea
than be the man standing in la pharmacie
chanting “English, English,”
as if these syllables are all it takes
to halt ridicule and stomach ache.