Home Poetry

The following are a selection of poems I wrote in a journal I kept from May 8 - October 11, 1991.
I was 23 and living as a part-time au pair for a French family.

I had spent my junior year of college abroad in Nice, France, where I had a Moroccan boyfriend named Chihab. We parted when I returned to the States. I graduated from college in May 1990.

Eight months later, in January of 1991, I returned to France-- this time to Toulouse, a 7-hour train ride from Nice--and lived/worked as a part-time au pair for a family there. They had three children: Laure (10), Claire (4), and Remy (1+). I also babysat for another family with two children: Thomas (7) and Julia (6) and did some housecleaning.

I returned home to Massachusetts in late July of that year. Shortly after that I moved to Washington, D.C., where I shared an apartment with my college friend Joe and worked at a bookstore.

May 8

they tell us about
god the all-powerful,
god the omniscient,
god the all-encompassing,
but they neglect to tell you about
god the all-humorous
god the all-funny, she said.

and they tell us about
our lady of the cape,
our lady of the lakes,
our lady of the mountains,
but they don’t say anything about
our lady of the last minute.

patience and humor, she said.
if you had patience and humor
you were all set
because everything happens,
but it doesn’t happen until the last minute,
and it comes with a twist of humor.

May 13

Sunny afternoon
legos scattered on the wooden floor
in red, green, yellow and blue
the dog trotting and chewing stuffed animals
into tiny shredded bits
Rémy climbing and screeching a wooden stool
across the length of the room
yelling and crying when it was blocked
and Claire shouting loudly in French,
“Ah-nne! Ah-nne! Ah-nne! Ah-nne!”

I concentrated on the music book
repeating three lines of staccato
over and over, ignoring the noise
my head heavy in depression
faking indifference
until Claire insisted, banged upon the piano,
shouted in my ear, punched me in the arm.

And I turned to her
and punched her back,
hard enough to hurt.
She turned away wailing
and I thought to myself,
I can’t believe you did that.
You’re a bit off today,

May 19

“My dear Anne,” he said,
“You’re not boring me,
but I must go now.”

May 20
Claire says
her parents have gone to Paris
to kill all of the sharks and wolves.
She is home alone for the weekend
with her baby, Thomas
and would like to sleep over my house.

Ask your mother, she tells me,
so I ask, and my mother says no.
She says no, I tell Claire.
She says you make too much noise,
drink too much water,
eat too much food.
You can’t come over.

Clair smirks then grins.
Tell her I’m coming over anyway, she says.
With my baby, Thomas.
We’ll dance tonight
and then eat and then
go to bed.