Despite seven years of French class

            after Chen Chen

bonjour rolled off my tongue like a McDonald’s Big Breakfast.
I coughed it along the staircase, spraying each step with sad crumbs.
I imagined myself smaller & chanting with Émile & Pierre. The vowels
we sang knew how to be silent. How would they laugh if they heard
how little I could trust the mucus in my throat? My favorite beret
exclaimed: Quel dommage! The croissant dust in my trash bin giggled:
Tais-toi, tais-toi! As an American flag caught my eye from across
the street, I watched its horrid dance through my window, thoroughly
convinced: I would arrive in France, just for my clothes to turn
to spray-canned cheese. Cashiers would let me buy nothing but the ungodly
portion of fries that no one else believes in & I would burn blue with
cold, if not for the fact that Paris laughed so hard it erupted in flames.

Noreen Ocampo (she/her) is a Filipina writer and poet based in Atlanta. Her work appears in Taco Bell Quarterly, Hobart, and Depth Cues, among others, and she also writes for the COUNTERCLOCK blog. She studies at Emory University and can be found on Twitter: @maybenoreen!

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