Charles Simic

(9 May 1938)

The Oldest Child


The night still frightens you.
You know it is interminable
And of vast, unimaginable dimensions.
"That's because His insomnia is permanent,"
You've read some mystic say.
Is it the point of His schoolboy's compass
That pricks your heart?

Somewhere perhaps the lovers lie
Under the dark cypress trees,
Trembling with happiness,
But here there's only your beard of many days
And a night moth shivering
Under your hand pressed against your chest.

Oldest child, Prometheus
Of some cold, cold fire you can't even name
For which you're serving slow time
With that night moth's terror for company.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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