The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday

The Initiate
By Charles Simic

St. John of the Cross wore dark glasses
As he passed me on the street.
St. Theresa of Avila, beautiful and grave,
Turned her back on me.

"Soulmate," they hissed. "It's high time."

I was a blind child, a wind-up toy . . .
I was one of death's juggling red balls
On a certain street corner
Where they peddle things out of suitcases.

The city like a huge cinema
With lights dimmed.
The performance already started.

So many blurred faces in a complicated plot.

The great secret which kept eluding me: knowing who I am . . .

The Redeemer and the Virgin,
Their eyes wide open in the empty church
Where the killer came to hide himself . . .

The new snow on the sidewalk bore footprints
That could have been made by bare feet.
Some unknown penitent guiding me.
In truth, I didn't know where I was going.
My feet were frozen,
My stomach growled.

Four young hoods blocking my way.
Three deadpan, one smiling crazily.

I let them have my black raincoat.

Thinking constantly of the Divine Love
and the Absolute had disfigured me.
People mistook me for someone else.
I heard voices after me calling out unknown names.
"I'm searching for someone to sell my soul to,"
The drunk who followed me whispered,
While appraising me from head to foot.

At the address I had been given.
The building had large X's over its windows.
I knocked but no one came to open.
By and by a black girl joined me on the steps.
She banged at the door till her fist hurt.

Her name was Alma, a propitious sign.
She knew someone who solved life's riddles
In a voice of an ancient Sumerian queen.
We had a long talk about that
While shivering and stamping our wet feet.

It was necessary to stay calm, I explained,
Even with the earth trembling,
And to continue to watch oneself
As if one were a complete stranger.

Once in Chicago, for instance,
I caught sight of a man in a shaving mirror
Who had my naked shoulders and face,
But whose eyes terrified me!
Two hard staring, all-knowing eyes!

After we parted, the night, the cold, and the endless walking
Brought on a kind of ecstasy.
I went as if pursued, trying to warm myself.

There was the East River; there was the Hudson.
Their waters shone like oil in sanctuary lamps.

Something supreme was occurring
For which there will never be any words.

The sky was full of racing clouds and tall buildings,
Whirling and whirling silently.

In that whole city you could hear a pin drop.
Believe me.
I thought I heard a pin drop and I went looking for it.


This is a count-my-blessings day. For instance, because my arm is in pain and I was very groggy at 2 a.m. from the tetanus shot, my husband took care of the cleaning-up when my younger son threw up all over his bedroom. And because there is freezing rain falling as I type this, neither of my kids has school today, meaning that my older son is home to keep my sick younger son company (and probably catch whatever he has). Meanwhile I am still groggy, in mild pain but not nearly as bad as I remembered from the last time I got a tetanus shot, which also had the diptheria vaccine in it and made me horribly ill. My finger is still sore from having been chomped and Boromir is going to have to make do with another day locked in a modified birdcage because I can't get out to the pet store in this weather with a sick child.

But all in all things aren't that bad because I am feeling the love (thank you all enormously for the movie recs -- will answer comments from yesterday presently but right now I have no idea when, exactly). Ended up not watching anything because I had an urgent need to talk to ashinae after fencing and dinner out and stopping by my friend's house to pick up my son's Superbowl winnings. (His plan for the day was for me to run out to Best Buy and spend half of it on some GameCube game while he was at school, and instead we're all stuck at home and he's sick to his stomach, poor guy.)

Anyway, I will be here but probably not chatting much since I have to find a way to work, keep my children entertained, try to get some food into the little one and fold a heck of a lot of laundry. Sigh. I suppose it's silly to be depressed by rodent instincts, anyway...

Aragorn and Boromir in happier times.

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