The French (History) Teacher

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The French (History) Teacher

You’re not actually French. You just brought in a French textbook,

told us you wanted to bring in a World War I pistol instead, but this will have to do.

They say we didn’t help them during the war, that Paris was never taken, that we may, in fact, have lost our minds between the trenches, the gas, and the bombs.

N’est ce pas?

I only touch my face to remind myself that it is still there, and – beneath it – is a mind that may not be my own. When I say this to the class, you handed me the gas mask, right in time for a smile.

The mask was old paper in my hands, and it was easier to ask when I put it on,

but harder to hear when you responded, au fait.

My French grandmother never believed in that.

But I finally understood Bogart in Casablanca when he says his German is rusty.

Oh, mon ami.

If I kissed you for the last time, I knew it wouldn’t be written down.

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