by Jill McDonough
Trying to say “Breugel” I say “Broogle,” not
“Broygle,” rhyme with “google,” not “oy, girl.”
I blush, remember I’m from French Broad Elementary School
in Alexander, North Carolina. Not that Breugel himself
would recognize we’re calling his name. On a train outside of Brugge
I heard a conductor laugh when my dad said “Bruggie”
in his soft Peoria-to-Alexander accent, and I thought look,
you Belgian a-hole, come back to Alexander, try to say Alexander
Missionary Baptist Church, say y’uns, say y’all, say saved. I’m
the pedantic one now, tell people to say guzzle not ghaZAHL, although
ghaZAHL sounds classier. But Shahid, (not ShaHEED) said it right, taught
me what to say. I said “unwieldly” for forty years: there’s no reason
to be a dick. A student calls a ghazal a gazelle, gets embarrassed.
But I prefer it, say know what? I’ma start saying that, too.
Jill McDonough’s books of poems include Habeas Corpus (Salt, 2008), and Where You Live (Salt, 2012). The recipient of three Pushcart prizes and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, NEA, NYPL, FAWC, and Stanford, her work appears in Slate, The Threepenny Review, and Best American Poetry. She teaches in the MFA program at UMass-Boston and directs 24PearlStreet, the Fine Arts Work Center online. Her fourth poetry collection, REAPER, is forthcoming from Alice James Books.