Maria Famà


A small brown and white terrier, Nelle,

straight from France

lived next door to me for four years

with her French doctors

postdoctoral fellows at Jefferson Hospital

Nelle, in elegant collars and tasteful sweaters,

paraded with her doctors proudly up Sigel Street

as if it were a Paris boulevard

For half a year

I chatted in English with the doctors

I greeted Nelle

“Hello, Nelle, how are you?”

Everyday Nelle stiffened, glared, growled at me

Then, one morning,as Nelle emerged

with her doctors for a walk

I said, “Hi, Yannick! Hello, Hérvey!”

I looked at Nelle and said

“Bonjour, Nelle! Comment allez vous?”

Nelle wagged her tail, licked my hand,

I swear she gave me a smile

From then on

every day in my shaky French

“Bonjour, Nelle! Comment ça va?”

“Bonjour!” “Bonsoir!” “À bientôt, Nelle!”

Everyday Nelle bestowed

a precious lick of my hand, a welcome wag of her tail,

even a smile

everyday a little bit of French

for a thoroughly French dog

“Nelle, sa va bien?”

every day for Nelle

“Bonjour!” “Bonsoir!” “Bonne Nuit!”

until she returned to France

with her doctors

“Adíeu, Nelle!”

“Au revoir, Nelle, au revoir!”