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Halleys Comet

Written by: Stanley Kunitz | Biography
 | Quotes (2) |
 Miss Murphy in first grade
wrote its name in chalk 
across the board and told us 
it was roaring down the stormtracks
of the Milky Way at frightful speed
and if it wandered off its course 
and smashed into the earth
there'd be no school tomorrow.
A red-bearded preacher from the hills 
with a wild look in his eyes 
stood in the public square 
at the playground's edge 
proclaiming he was sent by God 
to save every one of us,
even the little children.
"Repent, ye sinners!" he shouted, 
waving his hand-lettered sign. 
At supper I felt sad to think 
that it was probably 
the last meal I'd share 
with my mother and my sisters;
but I felt excited too
and scarcely touched my plate. 
So mother scolded me 
and sent me early to my room. 
The whole family's asleep 
except for me. They never heard me steal 
into the stairwell hall and climb 
the ladder to the fresh night air.

Look for me, Father, on the roof 
of the red brick building 
at the foot of Green Street --
that's where we live, you know, on the top floor.
I'm the boy in the white flannel gown
sprawled on this coarse gravel bed
searching the starry sky, 
waiting for the world to end.