Tuesday Poem

Trochees and Dactyls

He met her at the reception.
She was exceptionally beautiful
and spoke with a thick accent

as she talked about her native
tongue. Popping an appetizer
(some sort of crustacean)

into her mouth, she airily
waved the tiny spear
of a tasseled toothpick in the air

as he waited for her to chew
and to swallow. “In my native
tongue,” she told him, giving

her upper lip a last fluid lick,
and gesturing with the toothpick
which came down on each word

like a conductor's baton
or a tool for poetic scansion,
“the first syllable always carries

the stress. No exceptions. Like love
at first sight, phonetically speaking.
The words are all trochees and dactyls.”

He nodded his understanding
and she went on, “Nevertheless,
our Slavic liquids,” and here she

aimed the lucky tip of the toothpick
at her mouth, nearly touching it,
“are difficult for you foreigners

to pronounce.” And she rolled
a consonant cluster with an r inside
right off he tongue, to demonstrate–

a dark grape wrapped in its native
mist, which he expertly caught
in his own mouth, and without bursting it,

gave back to her, whole.

by Paul Hostovsky