by Charles Simic
Father studied theology through the mail
And this was exam time.
Mother knitted. I sat quietly with a book
Full of pictures. Night fell.
My hands grew cold touching the faces
Of dead kings and queens.
There was a black raincoat in the upstairs bedroom
Swaying from the ceiling,
But what was it doing there?
Mother’s long needles made quick crosses.
They were black
Like the inside of my head just then.
The pages I turned sounded like wings.
“The soul is a bird,” he once said.
In my book full of pictures
A battle raged: lances and swords
Made a kind of wintry forest
With my heart spiked and bleeding on its branches.