Tuesday Poem: ‘Sunday Afternoon’ by Paula Green

It is the eleventh of February 1973.
Einstein is sitting up the back on a picnic blanket.
He is wearing shorts and jandals as though
he is on holiday from the laws of physics.
Florence Nightingale has sunglasses on
her hair loose and she is reading The Female Eunuch.

There is a bright blue sky over Western Springs
and Mick Jagger is wearing pink lipstick
thick silver armbands and a tight jump suit to match
the cloudless day. The silver diamonds could mean
anything as he struts across the stage and
pushes his chest into Sweet Virginia.

I have my eyes shut for just one second.

I think I have the moment in me
that I want to last like the instant the light
catches the hills to make them sharp
or the guitarist picks out that sweet melody.
I think I’m going to drop my plans
and go on down to Texas or New Orleans
but I’m seventeen and I don’t know
what I want and I don’t know what
I need. Mick Jagger struts across
the stage in his jean jacket with his pink scarf
soaring and his midnight ramblings burning
the afternoon crowd.

The world is in razor focus.

As long as you’ve got a table and chair
and a violin and a bowl of fruit you’ll be right
Alfred says, that’s all you need.
He grabs Florence by the hand
and they start to shimmy and sway
to the jumping Jack beat.

Mick Jagger eyeballs the Sunday sky with his blue
eye shadow glowing and his knee kicking high.
Alfred pulls me up off the grass and I let myself
fall into the whiff of the blues, country girl at heart.

Poem included with permission by the author. This poem was first published in Metro and is included in a new collection of poems by Paula Green coming out May 2013, The Baker’s Thumbprint.
Paula Green is a poet, reviewer, anthologist and children’s author. She also has a doctorate in Italian literature. Paula has published seven poetry collections including several for children. She reviews poetry for the New Zealand Herald and visits schools regularly. Co-written with Harry Ricketts, her book 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry was short-listed for the 2010 NZ Post Book Awards. She has recently edited Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems and is a judge for the 2012 NZ Post Book Awards, has edited Best NZ Poems and judged the NZ Post Secondary School Poetry competition.
Paula Green will also be taking part in NorthWrite 2012, a conference for readers, writers and illustrators featuring special guest speakers, workshops and evening events. I’m particularly pleased that Paula will be coming to lead a poetry workshop. I’ve already signed up! For more information about NorthWrite 2012, including a full list of presenters, workshops and events as well as registration and pricing, go here

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4 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘Sunday Afternoon’ by Paula Green

  1. What a funny old world! I was at this concert she describes in this poem. It was 9 days after my 16th birthday. A friend, Steven Beros, and I wormed our way right to the front to a security barrier only a few feet from the stage. I think it was only the second live concert I’d ever been to (the first being Daddy Cool) and it was an amazing experience. The Stones were at a real peak of their career then. We even got the taciturn Bill Wyman to smile by calling out to him when it was quiet between songs.

  2. gurglewords says:

    Love this poem…such vibrancy and colour. Thanks Michelle 🙂

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