By Charles Simic
You give the appearance of listening
To my thoughts, O trees,
Bent over the road I am walking
On a late summer evening
When every one of you is a steep staircase
The night is slowly descending.
The high leaves like my mother’s lips
Forever trembling, unable to decide,
For there’s a bit of wind,
And it’s like hearing voices,
Or a mouth full of muffled laughter,
A huge dark mouth we can all fit in
Suddenly covered by a hand.
Everything quiet. Light
Of some other evening strolling ahead,
Long-ago evening of silk dresses,
Bare feet, hair unpinned and falling.
Happy heart, what heavy steps you take
As you follow after them in the shadows.
The sky at the road’s end cloudless and blue.
The night birds like children
Who won’t come to dinner.
Lost children in the darkening woods.
Charles Simic was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1938 and moved to the United States in 1954. He was Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2007-2008. Simic, whose work is known for its surrealism, dark humor and irony, is the author of 20 books of poetry. In 1990, Simic won the Pulitzer Prize for a book of prose poems, “The World Doesn’t End.” His collection “Walking the Black Cat” was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1996. On the same day he was announced as poet laureate, Simic received the Wallace Stevens Award, a $100,000 prize given by the Academy of American Poets for “mastery in the art of poetry.” For more about Simic, visit our Poetry Series.