Old Man

Charles Simic

Backed myself into a dark corner one day,
Found a boy there,
Forgotten by teachers and classmates,
His shoulders slumped,
The hair on his head already grey.
Friend, I said.

While you stood here staring at the wall,
They shot a president,
Some guy walked on the moon,
Dolly, the girl we all loved,
Took too many sleeping pills and died
In a hotel room in Santa Monica.

Now and then I thought of you,
Listening to the squeak of the chalk
On the blackboard,
The sighs and whispers
Of unknown children
Bent over their lessons,
The mice running in the night.

Visions of unspeakable loveliness
Must’ve come to you in your misery:
Cloudless skies on long June evenings,
Trees full of cherries in our orchard,
To make you ache and want to be with me,
Driving a cab in New York City.