Today’s poem from The Writer’s Almanac

 

Fiction

 by Mark Strand

 

I think of the innocent lives

Of people in novels who know they’ll die

But not that the novel will end. How different they are

From us. Here, the moon stares dumbly down,

Through scattered clouds, onto the sleeping town,

And the wind rounds up the fallen leaves,

And somebody—namely me—deep in his chair,

Riffles the pages left, knowing there’s not

Much time for the man and woman in the rented room,

For the red light over the door, for the iris

Tossing its shadow against the wall; not much time

For the soldiers under the trees that line

The river, for the wounded being hauled away

To the cities of the interior where they will stay;

The war that raged for years will come to a close,

And so will everything else, except for a presence

Hard to define, a trace, like the scent of grass

After a night of rain or the remains of a voice

That lets us know without spelling it out

Not to despair; if the end is come, it too will pass.

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