The secret is not to move, the lady said,
But sometimes you can turn your head away
For a minute, then back, as you do to really watch
A sunset, and you do this several times, and then
You can feel the dark on your eyes like a cold cloth.
That’s how it was, she said. When the soldiers went by—
Straight lines of them, like holes in a cribbage board;
Men no older than my boy they caused to vanish—
I stood, but stared at nothing. Others told me
A haze of apple petals fell about them slowly.
And when I looked back, they were gone. The road
Was empty, save for cars with blackened seats,
And a body or two. It was comforting, that quiet,
For I was thinking of coffee, I was thinking
Of holding my hands around a cup of coffee.
You must do it, after all, she said—your eating,
Washing, sleeping, suffering. The mind has little rooms
It rents out to the body, and at times
You go there, no one follows you, the shades are drawn,
Dust falls like fingers from each one you touch.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 4 Number 2, on page 54
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