Mal- Entendu (Take Two)

Over at dVerse Poets Pub, the prompt tonight is ‘Anecdote’.  So I decided to rewrite an older poem of mine, which very much arose from a personal anecdote. (P.S. I am now expanding my boulangerie vocabulary and sometimes get handed the right bread.)

‘A few months’, they told me,

‘Immersion is good.’

Just jump in the pool, fully clothed,

then swim, swim some more, swim for your life,

always almost, but never quite there.


Haunted by failure, aware of the dangers,

I navigate, anxious, between the extremes.

All blandness in word choice,

I crawl through the accents raining in all directions

submerged in hot water when phone brings rapid riposte.


My jokes are more plodding,

some meaning eludes me.

I paddle along even when I am lost.


Distracted by how I pronounce the word ‘pain‘,

the baker hands me the wrong kind of bread.

I think I’ll stick to baguette in the future.

23 thoughts on “Mal- Entendu (Take Two)”

  1. Marina Sofia – You’ve expressed so eloquently what it’s like to try to learn a new language. It does take time and a lot of practice…

  2. ha. you might want to, to get what it is you want…just jump in…immersion works sometimes but it still leaves the door open for misinterpretation….

  3. ha..I though you were swimming and then…easy to make pronunciation errors…even if you know the language…love the embedded idea 😉

  4. This made me smile Marina – I’m terrible with languages and I feel so embarrassed when so many people seem to speak such good English and yet I can barely muster the most clunking of French! I can only ever seem to remember words for food…

  5. I’ve tried learning a few languages, but I’ve never really got very far, as I’ve never found myself immersed enough for the language to stick. I hope it all pays off for you, and your choices of bread multiply.

  6. …just jump in… don’t care of anything else… just jump in & take risks…when you feel the cold water be prepared to drown but never quit swimming until you can… surrender is a good thing but oh always not an option… great read here Marina… thank you… smiles & seize the day…

  7. What a wonderful poem. It reminded me of David Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty One Day”. I am also very happy that I remember enough of all the french I took to understand the pain (ha ha)

    1. Thank you for the comment – luckily, the French are more than eager to correct any of your faults, so no doubt I will become fluent soon. At least when ordering bread…

  8. Love this poem of yours, Marina! The immersion, which could feel like drowning, where one feels more like one is naked, the embarrassment of getting a word wrong or saying it wrong or hearing it wrong or being utterly misunderstood … a most beautiful challenge. 🙂

  9. Took me awhile to catch on……. but I got there in the end when I finally remembered some of my very limited French.

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