Two Poems

Charles Simic


The last customer will stagger out of the door.
Cooks will hang their white hats.
Chairs will climb on the tables.
A broom will take a lazy stroll into a closet.

The waiters will kick off their shoes.
The cat will get a whole trout for dinner.
The cashier will stop counting receipts,
Scratch her ass with a pencil and sigh.

The boss will pour himself another brandy.
The mirrors will grow tired of potted palms
And darken slowly the way they always do
When someone runs off with a chicken.


My mother sang opera all day long.
She made beds, shucked peas
And swore that not even death
Could change her heart’s devotion.

Her voice was like a police siren,
Her voice was like soft evening rain.
In the shed, the rabbits trembled,
The rooster looked admiringly at her.

Days of ecstasy, anguish, silence.
A year of long black dresses,
A year of white handkerchiefs,
Crumpled and strewn on the floor.

Once we took a walk in the cemetery.
The leafless old trees terrified me,
And so did her hands clenched into fists
As her chin rose higher and higher.

Grocers and mailmen ran from her
As from a sleepwalker
Who came after them in broad daylight,
Asking for the news of her lost love.