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IN THE LIBRARY
by Charles Simic

There’s a book called
“A Dictionary of Angels.”
No one has opened it in fifty years,
I know, because when I did,
The covers creaked, the pages
Crumbled. There I discovered

The angels were once as plentiful
As species of flies.
The sky at dusk
Used to be thick with them.
You had to wave both arms
Just to keep them away.

Now the sun is shining
Through the tall windows.
The library is a quiet place.
Angels and gods huddled
In dark unopened books.
The great secret lies
On some shelf Miss Jones
Passes every day on her rounds.

She’s very tall, so she keeps
Her head tipped as if listening.
The books are whispering.
I hear nothing, but she does.

IMAGE: “Concert of Angels” (1535) by Gaudenzio Ferrari. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charles Simic was born on May 9, 1938, in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. In 1953, he left Yugoslavia with his mother and brother to join his father in the United States. In 1961, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and in 1966 earned his Bachelor’s degree from New York University. His first full-length collection of poems, What the Grass Says, was published the following year. He has published more than 60 books including Jackstraws (1999), Walking the Black Cat (1996), and The World Doesn’t End: Prose Poems (1990), winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets in 2000, his many awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. When appointed U.S. Poet Laureate — a post he served from 2007-2008 — he said, “I am especially touched and honored to be selected because I am an immigrant boy who didn’t speak English until I was 15.”