Coming Home From France
Strange to be returning to a country
Where one is understood - well, not entirely,
But where one goes from A to B for reasons
Announced as if transparent: "To get groceries,"
"Because it seems the carburetor's dirty,"
"Since I'm supposed, this time, to do my duty."
For in my second language, all these matters
Are mentioned as though happening at a distance:
"Le manger" images "to eat"; "devoir"
Is homework oftener than my obligation.
Still, it feels good to have new ways of saying,
And it's a help to stand outside myself
For weeks on end, lodged in a new relation
With all that isn't Janet or our friends
Who've struggled with their English and succeeded.
I go about my business in a refuge,
In Shakespeare's tongue, in words of my tradition,
And, on those mornings when I go out early,
Alone, I have a language all my own.