The Romance Languages

My mother is learning French in stumbling
little phrases. Bonjour, Julien. Bonsoir.

Who is Julien? Merci, Julien.
Salut, Julien.
Bonne nuit. I imagine

a man dressed all in blue, drinking a glass
of Badoit. ~Bonjour~, Julien, she says.

My father, in the living room, watches
WW2 films in the darkness, oblivious

to Julien the Frenchman watching his wife
over the rim of high-end sparkling water.

Au revoir, Julien, says my mother.
Les femmes sont toutes les mรชmes! cries Julien,

and melts into his glass, where the bubbles
bop and bump against each other, trying

to express everything they feel, like germs
of life connecting and expanding.

My mother goes and makes two cups of tea,
carries them to my father in the lounge

and switches on the lamp. They sit together,
not speaking, fluent in each otherโ€™s thoughts.



Isabelle Thompson is a recent graduate of Bath Spa University’s MA in Creative Writing. She has had poetry published previously in Ink, Sweat & Tears and The Lake. Her reviews appear in Sphinx.