Learning German

In the German it is true that by some oversight of the inventor of the language, a woman is a female…
Mark Twain

A venerable man stands tall at the corner.
Promising worlds of knowledge,
he coaxes me across a corrugated street and
while I dodge the rush-hour Dudens,
he finds my conflict with verb endings fatuous,
laughs as I stumble into subjunctive crevices
and berates me as I reach the edge.

He holds four fingers high,
triumphant, still quivering under the sober weight of perfection:
I, me, to me, of mine.
I falter, my arms full of abstractions of ideas, wasted jokes and tortuous anecdotes,
and now the light has changed to red.
“Rules are rules are rules!” he cries and invents for me a new insult.
But marshalling all the hours and pens and pages
releasing all the sheets and tables
I push them into a single word:
Green!
and made it so.

Still the man is there but shrunken and enveloped,
settled deeper into the heartlands,
where he taunts the ones who dare cross his street,
who dare challenge the authority with which we all are born.

One thought on “Learning German”

  1. I’m learning German at the moment and, coming from the Romance languages, it is much harder than I expected. Your poem sums it up quite well. 🙂

    Like

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