The Empress

At the miracle of the coming light...



by Charles Simic



This Morning



Enter without knocking, hard-working ant.

I'm just sitting here mulling over

What to do this dark, overcast day?

It was a night of the radio turned down low,

Fitful sleep, vague, troubling dreams.

I woke up lovesick and confused.

I thought I heard Estella in the garden singing

And some bird answering her,

But it was the rain. Dark tree tops swaying

And whispering. "Come to me my desire,'

I said. And she came to me by and by,

Her breath smelling of mint, her tongue

Wetting my cheek, and then she vanished.

Slowly day came, a gray streak of daylight

To bathe my hands and face in.

Hours passed, and then you crawled

Under the door, and stopped before me.

You visit the same tailors the mourners do,

Mr. Ant. I like the silence between us,

The quiet- that holy state even the rain

Knows about. Listen to her begin to fall,

As if with eyes closed,

Muting each drop in her wild-beating heart. 




The Supreme Moment 




As an ant is powerless 

Against a raised boot, 

And only has an instant 

To have a bright idea or two. 

The black boot so polished, 

He can see himself 

Reflected in it, distorted, 

Perhaps made larger 

Into a huge monster ant 

Shaking his arms and legs 



The boot may be hesitating, 

Demurring, having misgivings, 

Gathering cobwebs, 


Yes, and apparently no. 




The Empress 



My beloved, you who spend your nights

Torturing me

By holding up one mirror after another

To me in the dark,

If there's anything I know to say or do today,

I merit no praise for it,

But owe it to the subtlety of your torments,

And your perseverance in keeping me awake.


All the same, who gave you the right

To judge me in my wretchedness?

What soul white as snow

Compiled this endless list of misdeeds

You read to me every night?

The airs you put on when I tell you to stop

Would make one believe

You were once a bedmate of a Chinese emperor.


I like it best when we do not say a word.

When we lie side by side

Like two lovers after their passion is spent.

Once again, day is breaking.

A small bird in the trees is pouring her heart out

At the miracle of the coming light.

It hurts.

The beauty of a night spent sleepless. 

















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