Voice (26)

Image via this old man

Image via this old man

TOWARD NIGHTFALL
— by Charles Simic

The weight of tragic events
On everyone’s back,
Just as tragedy
In the proper Greek sense
Was thought impossible
To compose in our day.

There were scaffolds,
Makeshift stages,
Puny figurers on them,
Like small indistinct animals
Caught in the headlights
Crossing the road way ahead,

In the gray twilight
That went on hesitating
On the verge of a huge
Starless autumn night.
Once could’ve been in
The back of an open truck
Hunkering because of
The speed and chill.

One could’ve been walking
With a sidelong glance
At the many troubling shapes
The bare trees made–
Like those about to shriek,
But finding themselves unable
To utter a word now

One could have been in
One of these dying mill towns
Inside small dim grocery
When the news broke
One would’ve drawn near the radio
With the one many months pregnant
Who serves there at that hour

Was there a smell of
Spilled blood in the air,
Or was it that other,
much finer scent–of fear,
The fear of approaching death
One met on the empty street?

Monsters on the movie posters, too.
Prominently displayed.
Then, six factory girls,
Arm in arm, laughing
As if they’ve ben drinking.
At the very least, one
Could’ve been one of them.

The one with a mouth
Painted bright red,
Who feels out of sorts,
For no reason, very pale,
And so, excusing herself,
Vanishes where it says:
Rooms for Rent,
And immediately goes to bed,
Fully dressed, only

To lie with eyes open,
Trembling despite the covers.
It’s just a bad chill,
She keeps telling herself
Not having seen the papers
Which the landlord has the dog
Bring from the front porch.

The old man never learned
To read well, and so
Reads on in that half-whisper,
And in that half-light
Verging on the dark,
About that day’s tragedies
Which supposedly are not
Trageides in the absence of
Figures endowed with
Classic nobility of soul.

from Unending Blues
1986
#mightier
image via thisoldman

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