“The French Lesson” by Michael C. Ford

Michael C. Ford

THE FRENCH LESSON

Quel saccage du jardin de la beauté
—Rimbaud

At the conclusion of one of my
Sorbonne translation demonstrations
At the English faculty, on Rue Charles V,
Dominique startles us by jumping to her
Feet with an interjected response: “Merci,
Monsieur passeist!”
At first, I’m flattered by her outward
Reaction to my work; but, later on,
I discover that it means:
A man not adapted to the present,
A man who doesn’t belong to the current age,
A man who has no relevant place in his time.

from Rattle #7, Summer 1997