Reverie Alphonse Mucha 1897
How to Piece a Puzzle
by Jan Chronister

Buy one in a box
with a cover you like.
You’re going to be looking at it a lot.
Mine was a birthday gift
after heavy hinting how bored I was,
might try my hand at jigsaw.
I mentioned how enamored
I was with Mucha,
his Art Nouveau style,
lithographs with flowers,
fair maidens, French words.

Open the box,
separate out edge pieces,
fit the outer perimeter together first.
This may require several siftings.
Decide what colors or patterns
to concentrate on, and sort, sort, sort.
Several piles form,
an old muffin tin
helps contain them.
Let your mind focus
on brushstrokes, shadows,
sunlight on leaves.
Drink in every curlicue,
petal, fold of cloth.

Don’t get discouraged—
the pace picks up
as fewer pieces remain.
When the last shape is locked in place,
buy some foam core board, puzzle glue.
Mount your masterpiece.
Hang it to remember
how you pulled through.

PAINTING: Reverie by Alphonse Mucha (1897).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The work of art depicted in my puzzle is Reverie by Alphonse Mucha. I have appreciated his work since college, but when I recently did some further research, I learned he died ten days shy of 79 after being tortured by Nazis. This knowledge was in the back of my mind as I pieced the puzzle, making the experience not only something to pass the time but a reminder of how temporary anything in life really is.

Chronister1 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jan Chronister is a retired writing instructor currently serving as president of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. She has authored two full-length poetry collections and four chapbooks. Visit her at