Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Task

You never expected
to spend so many hours
staring down an empty sheet
of lined paper
in the harsh inner light
of an all-night diner,
ruining your heart
over mug after mug
of bitter coffee
and reading Meister Eckhart
or Saint John of the Cross
or some other mystic
of nothingness
in a brightly colored booth
next to a window
looking out
at a deserted off-ramp
or unfinished bridge
or garishly lit parking lot
backing up
on Detroit or Houston
or some other city
forsaken at three a.m.
with loners
and insomniacs
facing the darkness
of an interminable night
that stretched into months
and years.

Credit


Copyright © 2018 Edward Hirsch. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, November/December 2018. Used with permission of the author.

Author


Edward Hirsch

Born in Chicago on January 20, 1950, Edward Hirsch is a poet and literary advocate. His second collection, Wild Gratitude (Knopf, 1986), received the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Date Published: 2018-11-12

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/task