Two Poems

Charles Simic

Walking

I never run into anyone from the old days.
It’s summer and I’m alone in the city.
I enter stores, apartment houses, offices
And find nothing remotely familiar.

The trees in the park – were they always this big?
And the birds – so hidden, so quiet?
Where is the bus that passed this way?
Where are the greengrocers and hairdressers,

And that schoolhouse with a red fence?
Miss Harding is probably still at her desk,
Sighing as she grades papers late into the night.
The bummer is, I can’t find the street.

All I can do is make another tour of the neighborhood,
Hoping I’ll meet someone to show me the way
And a place to sleep, since I’ve no return ticket
To wherever it is I came from earlier this evening.

The Sect

A secretive sect preaching
A return to guiltless sexuality
Have set up a summer camp
In the woods over the ridge.

‘I’m going over to make inquiries,’
Our cop says, but his wife won’t let him.
The road is rough; it’s dark there
In the brush even at midday.

There’s a small pond so cold,
It’ll make you gasp for breath
Should you be so foolish
As to go skinny-dipping in it.

The crows flying and cawing
All morning, may have seen a maiden
Riding a billy goat – or worse!
And now won’t give us peace.