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Prairie Schooner 80.3 (2006) 113-114

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A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, and: Backward Postcard Mailed from Amherst

– Art Institute of Chicago, 2001

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

We weren't wrestling over global
war & certainly weren't making
predictions about the world's end
so that when you asked how I
imagined death would be, I was
startled & could only think of that
painting, the thirty or so minutes
I spent lost in it at the Art Institute
& all the while others to-ing & fro-ing,
brushing up against me, whispering to
themselves as if I didn't even exist,
& the Seine before us, the boats, all
motionless as if those boats planned
it just that way from all eternity,
absolutely no dipping & dragging
with the current. No current. On
the bank the expressionless were
taking their Sunday afternoon stroll
beneath the shade of trees & hats
& pleasant umbrellas as each stared
head-on into the mystery that stretched
out there beyond them. In my mind I am
waving & waving from the Beyond, beyond
the roped-off area separating them & us,
but they all seem to be staring, lost in
themselves, staring straight ahead
as if what was there wasn't there.
That, I imagine, is death when
I'm brave enough & allow
myself to imagine death. [End Page 113]

Backward Postcard Mailed from Amherst

Scowling is on the face of an impatiently owlish imp whose
mother hides the bird of hope beneath her tourist's eyes:

hemlocks, heavenly in their limbs, link arms before
the buzz & bustle of the second floor. Sweetest desire,

once lowered in a wicker basket, returns today as you do, alive
in hundreds of fractured, foreign tongues. A 2:15 tour: we've

split into two camps, on fire, fearing what's abnormal.
Why white, folded-paper cranes, pebbles & feeble,

scribbled prayers left on your headstone & the
iron grate-work; why? My Dearest E.,

Terrence Savoie has had poems published in more than a hundred journals, including the American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Northwest Review.



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