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O C T O B E R   1 9 8 3

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PROSODY 101

By Linda Pastan


Hear Linda Pastan read this poem (in RealAudio):

RA 28.8, RA 14.4

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

Also by Linda Pastan:
Deer (1996)
Crocuses (1989)
Green Thumb (1985)

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When they taught me that what mattered most
was not the strict iambic line goose-stepping
over the page but the variations
in that line and the tension produced
on the ear by the surprise of difference,
I understood yet didn't understand
exactly, until just now, years later
in spring, with the trees already lacy
and camellias blowsy with middle age,
I looked out and saw what a cold front had done
to the garden, sweeping in like common language,
unexpected in the sensuous
extravagance of a Maryland spring.
There was a dark edge around each flower
as if it had been outlined in ink
instead of frost, and the tension I felt
between the expected and actual
was like that time I came to you, ready
to say goodbye for good, for you had been
a cold front yourself lately, and as I walked in
you laughed and lifted me up in your arms
as if I too were lacy with spring
instead of middle aged like the camellias,
and I thought: so this is Poetry!



Copyright 1983 by Linda Pastan. All rights reserved. Used by permission. As published in A Fraction of Darkness (W. W. Norton, 1985)
Originally published in
The Atlantic Monthly, October 1983.

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