Poetry: A Sunday Afternoon On the Island of La Grande Jatte in the City of Columbus by Patricia Miranda

We love the pace that Patricia Miranda builds in “A Sunday Afternoon”—she packs the single stanza with delicate humor and a theatrical rush. Too easily we see the speaker as ourselves, clumsily reversing through a day of mishandled opportunity and awkward moments. Miranda has dragged forth a collective daydream with wit and freshness that ultimately leaves us wishing we had written this one ourselves.



You can’t recall how many times
you’ve walked into a conversation
only to wish you could back out—
backward through the crowd, dragging
wisps of chatter with you, backward
through the double doors and out
into the hall, twenty paces
to the place where smokers huddle
to share fresh air, and backward still
through the concourse and toward the park
on Town Street where the topiary
sculptures of Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon
sun themselves as you sidestep the posies
parasols and shadows littering
the Isle, but still you falter backward,
backward past the pug and monkey
who (though late to the picnic) still want
the mongrel’s fare, but you can’t spare
a backward glance, for now
there’s the wired girl in brimmed hat,
held fast by the faceless nanny,
and, this time, you pause to wonder
if reversal is really possible and if regret
could be counterforce enough—but now
the bugler is sounding and the crew is pulling out
and the river is there too, beckoning you backward,
its pointillated chill caressing
your ankles hips and heart,
the silence so strong
that as you wade farther out,
farther and backward,
you somehow snag a tiny piece,
even as the tide sweeps you off the curb
and into the rush of traffic,
the cars somehow knowing
not to hit the guy who’s stumbling,
stumbling backward
and still not completely free,
still backing into conversations
and hoping to say the right thing
and, this time, really mean it.



Patricia Miranda

Patricia Jacaban Miranda lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she teaches high school English and where there really is a topiary garden based on Georges Seurat's famous painting. Her poems have been featured or are forthcoming in aptBop Dead CityDASHHeron TreeHyphenInto the VoidKitaabMount HopeRise Up Review, and several other literary journals. Her children's book debut with husband-illustrator, Chris O'Leary, will be published by Albert Whitman in 2019.

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