Denise Segal Umans, “The Mistral”

Denise Segal Umans grew up in South Africa and now lives in the Boston area. As a speech-language therapist and linguist, she has worked for over 30 years in language and literacy development and as a teacher of English as a second language. Her poems have been published in Clementine Poetry Journal, Clementine Unbound, Poetry Quarterly, and Indiana Voice Journal.

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The Mistral

“There’s something about the light in Provence. Forever, the area
has drawn artists and easels…” (Bella English, Boston Globe, 2017)

The wind changes
everything. Ambling turns to rush:
a couple slant into each other, as they hurry
through the square, blue sky now ashen,
darkening over a woman who drags
her dog, leash taut, past
the ancient aqueduct. Store owners
pull their wares indoors—
cloths, skirts, rugs—away from us,
tourists, who hover uncertain

of the change in pace
of the day. The tone
picks up strength, from quiet
kindness, to harsh tenor, urgent
like the wind. Go home!
they call out. We stare back, still
as the statues around the plaza.
The seller shouts, The Mistral!
nudging us from behind
like a squall at our backs,

blowing the dust
away, along with its chill,
and cleansing the air. The light,
beyond brightness, overtakes us
like a shooting star across
a blackened sky, illuminating
every olive tree, every blade
of grass in its path. The sun
sets with a golden aura
over the hills, yellowing

rice paddies and grapevines
as if painted with pollen
from Van Gogh’s sunflowers
in the local fields.

2 thoughts on “Denise Segal Umans, “The Mistral”

  1. I was struck by the beautiful, clear imagery in this poem. I have never been to France, but I felt I was there, experiencing le mistral firsthand. The effect on the characters was palpable–the slanting of the couple, the dragging of the dog, the warnings from the seller, the tourists as still as statues. The wind is like a person too, the contrast between its threats but the loveliness it leaves behind as well. Throughout this poem, I felt as if I were reading a chapter in a book or watching a movie. This was a fabulous poem! Kudos to the poet’s skill in creating such a scene.


  2. Thank you so much for your detailed, positive comments about my poem. I really appreciate it. It means a great deal to me to know that the visual image I was trying to create actually came across to you, as the reader, in the way that I had intended and I am especially pleased that you could almost feel as though you were there. Thanks again for taking the time to write to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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