Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ON THE IRT, by KAREN SWENSON



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ON THE IRT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A lily in a burdock nosegay
Last Line: Swarms fireflies in a jar sealed by aphasia.
Subject(s): Caregivers; Children; Subways; Childhood


A lily in a burdock nosegay,
she holds the center pole
surrounded by other herded children -
two mongoloid boys swing to the train's rhythm,
playing catch with words they mouth
through the subway's steel scream;
two girls, eyes dusty as tenement windows,
hold hands as though grasping inanimate objects.
She, one perfect note in this off-key chorus,
face radiant as a Renaissance angel
with what we believe makes humans most divine,
grunts and squeals and growls.

The young woman with movie-star hair, who chaperons
this congregation of Down's and other damage,
reprimands her back to silence.
Her face retaining ecstasy
swarms fireflies in a jar sealed by aphasia.





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