Gigantic Day

Michelle Boisseau Click to

IMG_1882 - Version 2Michelle Boisseau is a Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Her books of poetry include: No Private Life (Vanderbilt, 1990), Understory (Northeastern University, 1996), Trembling Air (Arkansas, 2003), A Sunday in God-Years (Arkansas, 2009) and the forthcoming Among the Gorgons.  Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Yale Review and Ploughshares. In 2010 she received an NEA Fellowship in Poetry and in 2015 was awarded the Tampa Prize.


We are bemoaning how the rising 
	deluxe condos will bully the river

when jittering toward us come irises
	rocked in a beaming woman’s arms.

Then all along Millbank they come
	hugging froths and sprays from the selloff,

blue dithers and nodding nasturtiums,
	foxgloves jiggling their freckled bells,

from shopping bag and trolley dangle
	panting fuchsias and apricot roses,

a Japanese maple whirls in a tango
	through the taxis on Chelsea Bridge Road

and a warble of calla lilies opens up
	to hit the high note that rumbles through us

as we all stream toward the tube stop,
	past the humming double-decker bus

where every lap is plumped with bounty
	and down we go following a crush

of petals onto the underground
	platforms brimming for the rush. 
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2 Responses to Gigantic Day

  1. Camille Hunt says:

    This poem so eloquently captures the clash of natural and urbanity that occurs in a city. The playful personification, substitution of flowers and trees for people, and general whirl of activity that goes on in this poem tempts you to read it as a happy poem, but there is a negative note to it. The crushing of petals, bullying of the river, reference to a selloff and crowdedness combined with the idea that we carry flowers in our shopping bags makes us you stop and wonder if we are trying to buy nature, and then ask: can we buy nature? The harmony between and seamless integration of city into nature that, if quickly read, this poem might suggest on the surface is criticized if read thoroughly.

    • Trish Percival says:

      As a gardener who is about to lose the plot she has tended for 28 years, I cannot help but understand and cheer for the volunteers who have rescued these plants from steam shovels. I pictured them taking these plants, most perennials, roots an all, to live another day in another place. A victory, or rescue, small but real, against the creep of concrete and, perhaps, the conversion of land enjoyed by all to land reserved for the privileged.

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