Poem for Spring
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JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight, former Poet Laureate and NewsHour regular Robert Pinsky considers the downside of spring.
ROBERT PINSKY: In springtime, some people grow misty-eyed with allergies to pollen. The poet Lynne McMahon greets the season gladly, but with the recognition of the hay fever sufferer’s fate at this coming time of year.
Here is Lynne McMahon’s poem “Spring.”
We begin now our interior life, the life
of the mind, I’m tempted to say, but
really we’re driven in
by the flowering plum, the lilac,
the early April greens sending their brilliant
toxins to flame and stagger over the delicate
sclera of the eye, to sheet
like tearing silk down the throat
swanned in an arch to clear a breathing
space, now that breathing’s a conscious thing.
We swell and dwindle
on a histamine tide,
the bone bowl around a sea that hesitates
to finally overtake us, though it drives out
or subsumes nearly everything,
obligations and errands,
the small spiny creatures of the day.
Not that we’re ungrateful
for these walled-in glooms and
filtering machines, the pharmacopeia
of everyday life that allows us
some measure of perception. We can see
in fact that our debility
is minor, perhaps even a privilege,
a god’s eye warding off tubercles
and metastasis- a seasonal and temporary
strangulation whose recurrence
we can count on
as on little else in the world, a little luck
choking and stinging its way into our heads
where the welcome lies
disguised as tears.