The White Room

By Charles Simic b. 1938 Charles Simic
The obvious is difficult
To prove. Many prefer
The hidden. I did, too.
I listened to the trees.

They had a secret
Which they were about to
Make known to me,
And then didn’t.

Summer came. Each tree
On my street had its own
Scheherazade. My nights
Were a part of their wild

Storytelling. We were
Entering dark houses,
More and more dark houses
Hushed and abandoned.

There was someone with eyes closed
On the upper floors.
The thought of it, and the wonder,
Kept me sleepless.

The truth is bald and cold,
Said the woman
Who always wore white.
She didn’t leave her room much.

The sun pointed to one or two
Things that had survived
The long night intact,
The simplest things,

Difficult in their obviousness.
They made no noise.
It was the kind of day
People describe as “perfect.”

Gods disguising themselves
As black hairpins? A hand-mirror?
A comb with a tooth missing?
No! That wasn’t it.

Just things as they are,
Unblinking, lying mute
In that bright light,
And the trees waiting for the night.

Charles Simic, “The White Room” from The Book of Gods and Devils. Copyright © 1990 by Charles Simic. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Source: The Book of Gods and Devils (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1990)

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Poet Charles Simic b. 1938

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, The Mind, Nature, Trees & Flowers

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Quatrain

 Charles  Simic

Biography

Charles Simic is widely recognized as one of the most visceral and unique poets writing today. Simic’s work has won numerous awards, among them the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” the Griffin International Poetry Prize, and, simultaneously, the Wallace Stevens Award and appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate. He taught English and creative writing for over thirty years at the University of New Hampshire. . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Nature, Trees & Flowers

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Quatrain

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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