End of an Era

This morning, flakes of sun
peel down to the last snowholds,
the barbed-wire leavings of a war
lost, won, in these dead-end alleys.
Stale as a written-out journalist,
I start to sort my gear.
Nothing is happening. City, dumb
as a pack of thumbed cards, you
once had snap and glare
and secret life; now, trembling
under my five grey senses’ weight,
you fall and flatten
queasily on the table.

Baudelaire, I think of you! Nothing changes,
rude and self-absorbed the current
dashes past, asking nothing, poetry
extends its unsought amnesty,
autumn saws the great grove down.
Some voices, though, shake in the air like heat.

I see myself hardened against queer sights:
myself, perhaps, the queerest,
man running wild
in his selfmade wilderness.
Everyone greets me; all are nonchalant.
We have so much
in common: even squalor.
I walk into my house and see
tourists fingering this and that.
My mirrors, my portfolios
don’t suit their style.

Still, those few friends,
living and dead,
with whom things aren’t too easy…
Certain old woods are sawdust,
from now on have to be described?
Nothing changes. The bones of the mammoths
are still in the earth.

(Adrienne Rich)

Vojislav Vojo Stanić (b. 1924), L’Horloger, oil on canvas, 1957.
Vojo Stanić

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