mauvais perdant


Poppies (c) Kristin Espinasse
A field of provençal poppies (near Bollène) for my mom, Jules.

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...)

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse


Note: the following story was written two years ago. Mother's Day 2010 (in France) is this Sunday, May 30th


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 quizzed my second-born as I stood positively beaming in a frumpy robe and puffy pantoufles.*
"On est quel jour?" my ten-year-old quizzed back.

"I don't know... May 24th or fifth..." I replied impatiently, not one to let details rain on my parental parade. "Just guess. Devine quel jour on est!"

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 correctly 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 acrostiche:

                  * 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 raggedy 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.

~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~
la micro-onde
(f) = microwave; la pantoufle (f) = slipper; On est quel jour? = What's the date?; devine quel jour on est= guess what day it is!; 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 MP3
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Tune Up Your French: Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French

~~~~~~~~~~French music , film, food, and more...~~~~~~~~
  Matthieu Chedid

Matthieu Chedid (also known as -M-)  is a French rock singer-songwriter. His Addictive Light/Easy Pop Songs Are Heavily Played on French Radios.

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.

In music: Le Phare by Yann Tiersen


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Bill in St. Paul

What a great idea to write a poem for a special day/special person. Since my wife's birthday is tomorrow and having just returned from a week and a half with our two granddaughters (and their parents) I haven't had time to come up with a present or two yet. So, perhaps, a loving poem will buy me some time.

Karen Whitcome

Awww - such sweetness we have in these years we share with our children living at home. And, Kristin, even though your appearance might at times look un-lovely, your spirit is the picture of loveliness.


Acrostiche: 26th May 2008 --- 26th May 2010
Two years ago!.... , jour pour jour!

“Bonne fête des Mères” Kristin
& “Bonne fête” to Jules too!

Here, in England, Mother's day is always early March - and I love to be offered pots of primroses (Primulas)


Hello Jackie,
Ecrire un acrostiche n'est pas aussi simple que l'on pense!
Two years later, you might like to write different words to your “Merveilleuse Maman” (who knows?) If you did, it would be nice to keep this super “N” for “Naturelle … comme une Coccinelle”.
Bisous et Bonne journée!

PS - trying to write a simple acrostiche - but it isn't that simple!


What a sweet gift - do save it!!


I tried.....
and here is an “acrostiche” for my husnand.

Plus de doute
Et plus d'effroi.
Tu es pour moi
Et seras toujours
Rocher inébranlable de notre amour

To Peter:

No more doubt
and no more fear
as you are for me
and always will be
the unwavering rock of our love

Yerda Yearsley

What a lovely Mother's Day your daughter offered, and well deserved! It appears that the mothers and daughters in votre famille
(Jules, you and Jackie) are related not only genetically, but also with love of life and each other...the best! I am similarly blessed.

p.s. with delight I read your piece about "smala" right before my "smala" threw a wonderful bon voyage party for us, with lots of good food, conversation and many hugs! Bruce and I will be leaving for France on Mother's Day, and this mother couldn't be happier! It seems there's some great wine in your cellars waiting for us mid June...JOY!



how absolutely lovely - your daughter's gesture and the sentiments that go with it - love is timeless

Barbara Andolsek Paintings

How wonderful for you to have raised such a sweet and thoughtful daughter!

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Kristin, I missed this post two years ago so thank you for re-posting it. What a thoughtful and touching poem.



What a sweet essay!


Excellent! And this was a timely entry as we leave for France tonight to visit my mother-in-law so reading that Mother's Day is Sunday is perfect for our trip!


Very sweet Kristin and a nice keepsake from your daughter!

Judith L. Roth

What a thoughtful daughter you have! Thank you for sharing her acrostic....


It is so interessting to know that Mother's Day is not the same everywhere. I never knew that until this year. Happy Mother's day to you! The poem was a very nice for your daughter to write.

I love to see poppies! We have them along some roads here in Virginia. A beautiful flower that is is linked to helping relieve pain, but causing so much pain to other's. I guess that is like many things in life. Have a wonderful day!!


In my last post:
it's -> husBand... not ... nand!

Jacqui McCargar

The right red fields of Poppies are one of my favorite pictures of France! I visited in late May 2006 some of my favorite Provencal spots and the glory of the poppies simply takes my breath away!! Maybe one year I will be there when the lavender blooms...sigh....
Happy Mother's Day Kristi!

Karen Whitcome

Beautiful, Newforest!! Well-done.

Candy in SW KS

Lovely poppies, lovely poem, lovely maman and lovely daughter. Thank you for sharing all of them with us. Happy Mother's Day.

Karen (in Towson, Md) Whitcome

By the way, Kristin.

This was my first day back to posting comments on FWAD after my mothers illness & passing. What a nice topic for the occasion. Thanks!

Jean(ne)  Pierre in MN

That is the best Mom's Day gift ever! I always prefer something from the heart and Jackie wrote beautifully! Thanks for the poppies, too. Wonder if these fields are found anywhere in the US?

Jules Greer

Darling Kristi,

You have exceeded all expectations of what
a faithful daughter should be...I adore you



I don't speak French but I think I have managed to interpret the poem and it is lovely.

Speaking of Mother's Day, how is your mother doing? Has her husband found new employment. We are in our 60s and know how difficult it can be at a later age to just get interviews. I wish them well.


What a lovely poem. I hope you get many more like that.
And how are your mother and her husband? I hope things are going better for them.

Joan Simon

Dear Kristin,

I burst into tears when I read your daughter's description of you. What a treasure. I am reminded of what I am in my children's eyes whenever I say something makes me look fat or I'm looking old.My (now) teenagers just shake their heads at me. They somehow see me through very different eyes.
As I sit here in my bathrobe, thank you for helping me remember.

Cheryl in STL

Thank you for sharing that sweet gift from your daughter. It truly is something to treasure. It's such a special moment to see ourselves through the eyes of our children and to recognize that they see so much more than slippers and a housecoat!

Sandra Vann

Bonjour Kristin,

I remember this beautiful poem from two years ago, that your sweet, thoughtful daughter wrote to you. What a true from the heart, gift. Happy Mother's Day to you and to Jules!
I recall a lovely Mother's Day in
S. France, where we were unexpectedly given a beautiful rose with our cafe au lait. Unforgettable.
We are working on returning this Summer if possible, to our beloved France. Maybe house sit/pet sit for friends, my husband would love to see a section of the Tour de France in person. Love to continue our search for une petite maison, peut etre even assist a family with children en vacance, teach, whatever.

I hope you truly enjoy YOUR special day Kristin. Hope all is going well for Jules and her husband too? We know what these transitions are like as well as we are in one also! To new paths...adventures!
Merci beaucoup, for blessing us all, all year long, with your lovely photos and words. I adore the poppies you shared today and have seen them on previous visits in the Spring. I hope it's a truly fabulous, joy filled weekend for you.
Sandy Vann

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