My Shoes

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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