Asthma and Tears

Johanna Shapiro PhD


Lucille Marchand makes clear in her commentary that “Tears” (see record 2007-09423-017) is about a retinal detachment she experienced and the resultant psychological trauma and transformation that ensued. Yet the beauty of poetry is that it overflows with meanings; and as circumstances change, these meanings recede and emerge like a tide. In 2007, I find it hard to read her poem without thinking of our ongoing war in which all too much blood splatters both fields of vision and desert fields. Howard Stein’s devastating poem “Asthma” (see record 2007-09423-016) reminds us how blinded and narrow the field of vision of the health care providers can be; and how little we understand what is happening “on the ground.” So often we choose to go to war with each other, in ways large and small. Sometimes terrible things happen, over which we have no control. Retinas detach and threaten work and meaning. Asthma stalks young children. However, there is also the added suffering that results from blindness, arrogance, and the unwillingness to listen to each others’ stories. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)