I'm being very daring by reviewing a poem from someone that I want to take a poetry workshop from!
I love the mood of this poem. You start it off beautifully with the gingerbread, which invokes scent, taste and (for many people) fond memories of home, childhood and friendly kitchens. You then reminisce about an old woman you once knew, and then bring it back round again with the gingerbread. Overall, it has a sense of fond remembrance, sweet, loving, with a touch of the absurd, not really sad but just enough of a low tone to avoid being jarring. Perfect.
I'm certainly no expert on meter and form, but this appears to be free verse. I didn't notice a whole lot of figurative language - no metaphors, no similes, no personification, any of that. I did notice some sibilance with phrases like 'days as a student of dance', where that s sound comes through repeatedly. That adds to the flow of the poem.
SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT:
Poetry is very subjective, so these suggestions are offered with no expectation that you should use them if they don't feel right. At the end of the day it is YOUR poem, no one else's.
You use the word France once and French three times. Three times is too many in a poem this long, I think, unless the repetition is purposeful and it doesn't seem so in this case. I would suggest removing the word French from 'under the French full moon / in the Lac de Grand Lieu.' You've already inferred that they're in France because you've given the location. To use the term 'French full moon' offers only the opportunity for alliteration but gives no other advantage, so I'd remove it. I'm not sure how you'd change the word French in 'riding her bicycle / throughout the French countryside' but I think you need to, because it's too close to 'sometimes slipping into French as she spoke' which is the one place where you really need the word 'French'.
The poem doesn't have perfect standard sentence structure, with some partial sentences, but it's pretty close. If it were me, I'd be inclined to play around with removing some of the 'unnecessary' words. This might not work for you, I know that, but I came up with:
[Lines before this remain unchanged]
Bedecked in decades old
furs and costume jewelry,
she’d talk to me,
more so during the winter months -
Stories of her youth
Recounting days as a student of dance
in Paris, eyes glazed with memories.
Absently spinning an old ring on her finger,
she’d tell of a lover in Nantes -
a giggle and blush as she whispers
that they once skinny-dipped
under the full moon
in the Lac de Grand Lieu.
A sigh and nibble
on her scone
as she recalled weeks
riding her bicycle
through la campagne
and that far-off look as she'd
slip into French
without realizing it.
She’s gone now
but I still smell the gingerbread.
It's not customary to 'rewrite' a poem in a review, and I apologise if I've taken liberties. I just meant to show how some of the extra words could be removed to give extra weight and emphasis to those that are left.
I just adore the gingerbread lines that you start and end with. Truly, these make this poem. Without those, the poem is nice. With them, the poem is memorable, vivid and enchanting.
I really loved this, and thank you for sharing it. I'm sure this lady appreciated your company when it was available to her, and it's so lovely that you've passed on your memory of her to everyone who reads this poem.
My review has been submitted for consideration in "Good Deeds Get CASH!" .