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


A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety