First Frost

Charles Simic

The time of the year for the mystics.
October sky and the Cloud of Unknowing.
The routes of eternity beckoning.
Sign and enigma proliferating everywhere.

Master cobbler, Jacob Boehme,
Sat in our kitchen all morning.
He drank tea and talked of the quiet
To which the wise must school themselves.

The young mother paid no attention.
Hair fallen over her eyes,
Stubbornly scrubbing some difficult stain,
Her breasts loose and damp in her robe.

Then the dog’s bark brought us all outdoors,
And that wasn’t just geese honking,
But dame Julian of Norwich herself discoursing
On the marvelous courtesy and homeliness of the maker.

Charles Simic was a Serbian-American poet and essayist. Born in Belgrade, he and his family immigrated to America when he was in high school. He won numerous prizes for his poetry, including the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, and served as the United States Poet Laureate.
Originally published:
July 1, 1985


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