‘most awful of rewards’


Charles Simic
I was doing nothing in particular,
Spring was coming,
When out of the blue
I grabbed my side,
Surprised by this most awful of rewards
From which at first I wanted to
Run away and couldn’t.

The pain stayed until I knew its childlike
Cruelty and innocence,
Its pettiness too.
Fear came to keep it company:
A theater director
Wearing a black cape
And offering a series of boring melodramas.

I wanted Reason to defend me.
Instead it sought causes
Of my depravity,
Smaller reasons like piano keys
I could play to my heart’s content,
While the pain continued.

Impervious to argument,
The pain came closer,
Throbbing with impatience
As if to ingratiate itself.
Mean old Fate, I complained,
All you’ve ever given me
Is the satisfaction of moaning
And keeping my love awake.

“When all of reality hurts
You’ll understand.”
But it was too early for understanding.
There were just my eyes burning
With fever and curiosity
In the dark windowpane
I sometimes used as a mirror.

Photo by Mario Calvo on Unsplash

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