Something Large Is in the Woods

Charles Simic

That’s what the leaves are telling us tonight.
Hear them frighten and be struck dumb
So that we sit up listening to nothing,
Which is always more worrisome than something.

The minutes crawl like dog fleas up our legs.
We must wait for whatever it is to identify itself
In some as-yet-unspecified way
As the trees are rushing to warn us again,

The branches beat against the house to be let in,
And then change their minds abruptly.
How many leaves are holding still in the woods
With no wish to add to their troubles

With something so large closing upon us?
It makes one feel vaguely heroic
Sitting so late with no light in the house
And the night dark and starless out there.

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:
January 1, 2003

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