The next day, I understood French. Standing by the curb in my bathrobe and slippers on a frosty morning, looking for the paper in the shrubs, I saw the sparkling blades of grass and heard the crystals crunch beneath my feet in a suburb of a suburb of New York City—all right, Jersey—and realized I’d been narrating the scene to myself in French. “That’s miraculous!” I said, or, for those of you to whom this has also happened, “C’est miraculeux!” My waking and rising had been like any other. I folded back the covers like a turnover, slid to the floor, and folded them back: bed made. I folded back my wife’s covers next, and pulled her panties down as I do three times a week, then folded her covers back, and started thinking about coffee, but a trick of moonlight framed and presented her certain loveliness to me, somewhat smudged and softened, highlighted where it mattered most, in the eye area. “Comment très beau vous êtes!” is how I believe I phrased the feeling I felt. The moon. The shivering trees. Her melancholy. The mirror of my love. I kissed her eyelids lightly and went looking for the paper. In the kitchen, she noticed I had changed. Are French lovers more alive to affections that pass like smoke through the heart, or do they seduce through boorishness? The films are inconclusive. “Did we make love this morning?” she asked me. “Pourquoi demandez-vous ?” I replied. “Why do I ask? No reason. It’s just my . . . wait. Are you speaking French?” I didn’t have to answer. She knew at my touch that I understood, and more, that I would be her Baudelaire, her Byron, her what-all—happy, happy poets all, in love with lovely love!

Copyright © April 08, 2008 David Hodges