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Small Comfort

Coffee and cigarettes in a clean cafe,
forsythia lit like a damp match against
a thundery sky drunk on its own ozone,

the laundry cool and crisp and folded away
again in the lavender closet-too late to find
comfort enough in such small daily moments

of beauty, renewal, calm, too late to imagine
people would rather be happy than suffering
and inflicting suffering. We're near the end,

but O before the end, as the sparrows wing
each night to their secret nests in the elm's green dome
O let the last bus bring

love to lover, let the starveling
dog turn the corner and lope suddenly
miraculously, down its own street, home.

—Katha Pollitt

from The New Yorker.

Copyright by Katha Pollitt.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Katha Pollitt from The New Yorker. Copyright by Katha Pollitt. For further permissions information, contact

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Born in New York City, poet, political columnist, and personal essayist Katha Pollitt (1949- ) was educated at Radcliffe and earned an MFA from Columbia University. Pollitt is a columnist for The Nation, is the author of two poetry collections, including The Mind-Body Problem: Poems (Random House, 2009).

Learn more about Katha Pollitt at The Nation.