The students in this class, all women and only the one from Poland might be called stylish. She paints her fingernails a color she says is called: I'm Not Really a Waitress.
At Christmas she buys the teacher a gift, a wool challis scarf, and another day remarks when entering the classroom: You look good wearing black.
But even she is sensible, once bringing to class a loaf of Polish Rye, the lesson not even about bread.
Next to her, an elegant Haitian woman keeps trying to hold onto a word. She is a natural beauty, yet her manner is not. She has admitted to everyone, she loves the movies.
Examine, too, her grace and her lovely French accent, nearly Parisienne. And do not ignore the obvious, that even a white uniform looks good on her.
Who would be surprised to know that now, learning English my Chinese students want words to describe bolts of cloth they remember nudging past a needle at the sewing bench, stitching a collar, a hem, an ornamentation?
Even without my help they know the English words: wool, cotton, rayon, linen. Interested in fabric, style, craft
these tailors, dress and lace makers, weavers and knitters who have embroidered flowers on silk, what they want from this lesson is something more subtle, asking for how to say spots, lines, squares. I give them new words: stripe, plaid, polka dot, the more delicate dotted Swiss.
I cut up old clothes and bring swatches, showing them herringbone, hound's-tooth, black watch, and glen plaid. They admire my hair, curly on a humid day, but I love theirs, straight and silky in any weather. They want to know if I have a permanent wave. --Appeared in Levure Litteraire: levurelitteraire.com, Accueil (number) 3