North Adams, Massachusetts, in April 1934.
“April in the Berkshires,” a poem by William Matthews from our Spring 1987 issue. Matthews died in 1997. “Auden was wrong,” he said in a 1995 interview: “It’s not true that poetry makes nothing happen. It tends to work its wonders in a very small arena. It makes you more interesting to yourself, and you and me, at its best … It has the power to perform a kind of cleansing, or rinsing of the sort for which for a long part of human history, we had only images of theological intervention to describe.”
Dogs skulk, clouds moil and froth, humansbegin to cook—butter, a blue waver of flame,chopped onions. A styptic rain stings grit and soot
from the noon air. Here and there, like the messafter a party, pink smudgily tinges the bushes,but they’ll be long weeks of mud and sweaters
before a finch dips and percolates throughthe backyard air like the talk of old friends.It feels like the very middle, the exact
fulcrum of our lives. Our places wait for usin the yard, like shadows furled in bud.On the chill wands of the forsythia pale
yellow tatters wave. How long has Mr. ForsythBeen dead? Onto the lawn we go.Lights, camera, action: the story of our lives.
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