Charles Simic, ‘At the Cook-Out’ (1996)

The wives of my friends
Have the air
Of having shared a secret.
Their eyes are lowered
But when we ask them
What for
They only glance at each other
And smile,
Which only increases our desire
To know. . .

Something they did
Long ago,
Heedless of the consequences,
That left
such a lingering sweetness?

Is that the explanation
For the way
They rest their chins
In the palms of their hands,
Their eyes closed
In the summer heat?

Come tell us,
Or give us a hint.
Trace a word or just a single letter
In the wine
Spilled on the table.

No reply. Both of them
With the waning sunlight
And the evening breeze
On their faces.

The husbands drinking
And saying nothing,
Dazed and mystified as they are
By their wives’ power
To give
And take away happiness,
As if their heads
Were crawling with snakes.

~ by ohkrapp on January 14, 2008.

One Response to “Charles Simic, ‘At the Cook-Out’ (1996)”

  1. Also, from “Breasts”

    [T]he old janitor on his deathbed
    Who demands to see the breasts of his wife
    For the one last time
    Is the greatest poet who ever lived.

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