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by CHARLES SIMIC

July 22, 1990

My mother was a braid of black smoke.

She bore me swaddled over the burning cities.

The sky was a vast and windy place for a child

to play.

We met many others who were just like us.

They were trying to put on their overcoats with

arms made of smoke.

The high heavens were full of little shrunken

deaf ears instead of stars.

The opening stanza of "The World Doesn't End" (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: $17.95; 74 pp.; 0-15-198575-8), a book-length poem that won the 1990 Pulitzer Prize for poetry. copyright 1990, Charles Simic. Reprinted by permission of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

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