A field of provençal poppies for my mom.

Note: The next word will go out on Thursday...

acrostiche (akro-steesh) noun, masculine
  : acrostic

Here is a French definition, from Le Petit Larousse:
Acrostiche: pièce de vers composée de telle sorte qu'en lisant dans le sens vertical la première lettre de chaque vers on trouve le mot pris pour thème....

=> An acrostic is "a line of poetry composed in such a way that in reading, in the vertical direction, the first letter of each verse, we find the word used as a theme." (Also: a "telestich" spells out a term using the last letter in each word... and a "mesostich" does this using middle letters...)

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Yesterday, Mother's Day here in France, began with a conversation in front of the micro-onde,* where my daughter was heating up a cup of water.

"Do you know what today is?" I asked, positively beaming in a frumpy robe and puffy pantoufles.*
"On est quel jour?"* my ten-year-old asked back.
"I don't know... May 24th or fifth..." I replied impatiently, not one to let details rain on my parental parade. "Just guess. Guess what day it is!"

When my daughter looked confused, I upped my antics: widening not only my eyes but also my smile... and pointing exaggeratedly at my motherly profile. If I could have added flashing lights and honking horns to this miming display of maternity--bells, whistles, and even a foghorn--I would have. As it was, my daughter quickly caught on:

"La Fête des Mères!"* Jackie guessed. With that, she opened the microwave door, collected the cup of hot water, and offered it to me... along with some tea and honey. Next, from the garde-manger,* where she had hidden it, she produced this hand-written acrostic:

                  * M A M A N *

M -ajestueuse comme une hirondelle
A -ccueillante comme une musique
M -erveilleuse comme une abeille
A -gréable comme du parfum
N -aturelle comme une coccinelle.*

Studying the unbelievable choice of words, I wondered. How children can see such potential in us is, if not sublime, mysterious. I straightened up my posture, smoothed down my fluffy robe, and ran my fingers through a mop of hair. Re-reading my daughter's poem, I was struck by her vision of me. No longer frumpy or honking or absurd, there I stood: in her eyes I was as lovely as a ladybird.

la micro-onde
(f) = micro-wave; la pantoufle (f) = slipper; On est quel jour? = What's the date?; la fête (f) des mères = Mother's Day; le garde-manger (m) = pantry

Jackie's acrostiche, translated: Maman (Mommy) : Magnificent like a swallow; Welcoming like music; Marvelous like a bee; Pleasant like perfume; Lovely as a ladybird."

AUDIO FILE: (listen to the word and poem in French)
Download acrostiche.mp3
. Download acrostiche.wav

Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

~~~~~~~~~~French films, fiction, food, and more...~~~~~~~~
My daughter is currently reading (and recommending) Nicholas on Vacation. Children (and adults) will love it
... read it in French

Pickpocket : Robert Bresson's masterful investigation of crime and redemption tells the story of arrogant, young Michel, who spends his days learning the art of picking pockets in the streets, subway cars, and train stations of Paris.

La Perruche Sugar Cubes imported from France

In music: Le Phare by Yann Tiersen

A Message from Kristi
Thank you for reading my language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on the creative process of writing. My wish is to continue offering posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation of any amount.

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