Two Poems

Charles Simic

The Mirage

Like a cartoon of a lost traveller in the desert,
Fallen on his knees and dying of thirst,
Who sees a quiet pond in the distance
Surrounded by tall palm trees,
Once on a train approaching Chicago,
I saw a snow-peaked mountain
I knew perfectly well was not there,
And yet I stared, gradually beginning
To make out one high sunlit meadow,
When the black smoke from the mills
Hid the sheep grazing from my sight.

Wild Flowers

There were wild flowers on the road to hell.
The wind blew and the flowers
Danced in the ditches, alone or in pairs,
In that cheerful way flowers have.
You had to be there to see them
As well as the looming guard towers.

I wasn’t. Still, one hot summer afternoon
As I lay resting, their bright colours came to me
And that dusty road and that long ditch
Where the wind played with them
Carrying their scent past the barbed wire,
Or so I thought, too terrified to imagine the rest.