My Shoes

By Charles Simic b. 1938 Charles Simic
Shoes, secret face of my inner life:   
Two gaping toothless mouths,
Two partly decomposed animal skins   
Smelling of mice nests.

My brother and sister who died at birth   
Continuing their existence in you,
Guiding my life
Toward their incomprehensible innocence.

What use are books to me
When in you it is possible to read   
The Gospel of my life on earth
And still beyond, of things to come?

I want to proclaim the religion
I have devised for your perfect humility   
And the strange church I am building   
With you as the altar.

Ascetic and maternal, you endure:
Kin to oxen, to Saints, to condemned men,   
With your mute patience, forming
The only true likeness of myself.

Charles Simic, “My Shoes” from Charles Simic: Selected Early Poems. Copyright © 1999 by Charles Simic. Reprinted with the permission of George Braziller, Inc.

Source: Charles Simic: Selected Early Poems (George Braziller Inc., 1999)

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Poet Charles Simic b. 1938

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Reading & Books, Religion, Relationships, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Charles  Simic

Biography

Charles Simic is widely recognized as one of the most visceral and unique poets writing today. Simic’s work has won numerous awards, among them the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” the Griffin International Poetry Prize, and, simultaneously, the Wallace Stevens Award and appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate. He taught English and creative writing for over thirty years at the University of New Hampshire. . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Reading & Books, Religion, Relationships, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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