We pull to a stop in front
Of their woodframe house
Set back from the sleepy
Oak and maple treed street
In downstate New York,
A stone’s throw
From the Hudson River.
I am Canajun, eh?
And I live
North of New York State,
North of the St. Lawrence River.
I say hawkee; they say hackee:
My mouth is vertical; theirs horizontal.
On the eight hour trip to visit,
It amuses me to try to pronounce “hotdog”
Ripping the vowels apart to my ear
Much as, to my ear, they do.
My wife sighs beside me.
As I listen to them in my head,
I hear them put a gutteral
“A” in front of the first “o”
(Which they then distort
To make it part of the gutteral “a”),
Then they put a “w” in front of
The second “o” as: “haahtdwog”.
By the same token, I am sure it
Amuses them to try to verticalize
Their lips and try to pronounce
My word: “hahtdahg”.
There’s a shop near my home that
Calls them by another name: steamers.
I see the sign: “Steamers 60¢ ”
Hi, says my wife’s Irish cousin,
Giving me a hug Good to see you.
It’s been too long. Come on in.
Not a word about hotdogs.