The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Judith Terzi’s “Ghazal for a Chambermaid”

Judith Terzi

Sans Glory

Let the lesson begin. I’m French robotic.
Alan, ask Eric where he studies after school.
“Where do you study after school, Eric?”

I’m the audio-lingual-method lunatic.
180 seventh graders, 7 sections of French One.
Mist floats between angles of the room, thick

Inland Empire smog. I’m a directed dialogue freak.
Rachel, s’il te plaît, ask Josh where he studies.
Ditto for Ed. Ditto for Alicia. I’m a hawk:

No one dares breathe English inside Room 6.
Mary, chère Marie, where does Josh study?
Mary: “I study at the bibliothèque.” Mary, nix

the first person. It’s Josh, not you. Lethargic
at 2 pm, 85 degrees inside, no air conditioner.
Marie, Marie quite contraire, don’t cut to the quick,

use a verb. Last week my GP diagnosed acidic
instructional syndrome. Susan, ask Betty how old
she is. Ask Marty, ask Judy. Now pucker your lips.

Gabrielle, est-ce que Josh étudie à la discothèque?
I’m living on antacids. My langue is Mary’s lamb.
So much more tongue I’ll need to learn once I quit,

move abroad: What a pound of butter is in metric,
my shoe size, my waist, my cup in Marrakech.
Bob, ask Reena how old she is. Ask Joy, ask Tripp.

How old are your parents? Is your father hip?
Reena: “Madame, how do you say my father died,
he was 38?” I help translate her historic script:

Mon père est mort à 38 ans. Did they hear about it?
I’m in the principal’s office: “No pledge of allegiance
Period A? It’s the law, Mary’s mother had a fit.”

I don’t salute objects or people. “Just get it over with,
say it in French.” Ok. Son père est mort in 1963:
Medgar Evers, shot in his own driveway, hit

in Jackson, Mississippi. Her father died, moonlit.
Chère Marie, is your birthday in summer or spring?
Wake up, Eddy. Light me a cigarette. Get on the stick.


This selection comes from Judith Terzi’s chapbook Ghazal for a Chambermaid, available from Finishing Line Press. Purchase your copy here!

If You Spot Your Brother Floating By is Judith Terzi‘s latest chapbook (Kattywompus). Recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review(International Publication Award, 2015), Caesura, The Centrifugal EyeThe Found Poetry Review, Trivia: Voices of FeminismUnsplendid, and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Pacific Coast Poetry Series). She holds an M.A. in French Literature and taught high school French for many years as well as English at California State University, Los Angeles, and in Algiers, Algeria. Her poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and Web.

Noh Anothai was a researcher with the Thailand-United States Education Foundation (Fulbright Thailand) from 2011-12. In that time he translated programs and hosted cultural events for Thailand’s College of Dramatic Arts under the Ministry of Culture. Winner of Lunch Ticket’s inaugural Gabo Prize for Translation and Multilingual Texts in 2014, Anothai’s original poems and translations of Thai poetry have appeared in Ecotone, The Berkeley Poetry Review, and others.  He has contributed to Words Without Borders and Tin House, and serves as a reader for the  international River Styx poetry contest. He teaches for the online MFA program in Creative Writing at Lindenwood University.

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