Poem of the Week by Zbigniew Herbert

It's the last week of summer (and the fog has burned off on Clement Street); let's start the week off with a few prose poems from The Collected Poems of Zbigniew Herbert (Ecco Press, 2008).


It's completely black, but has an electric tail. When it sleeps in the sun it's the blackest thing you can possibly imagine. Even in its sleep it catches frightened little mice. You can tell by the claws that grow from its paws. It's terribly winsome and wicked. It swipes nestlings from the tree before they're ripe.


It has been raining all morning. The woman from across the street is to be buried. The seamstress. She dreamed of a wedding ring but died with a thimble on her finger. Everyone thinks this is funny. Respectable rain is darning the sky to the earth. But nothing will come of that either.


I don't understand how you can write poems about the moon. It's fat and slovenly. It picks the noses of chimneys. Its favorite thing to do is climb under the bed and sniff at your shoes.