Book Review: The World Doesn’t End by Charles Simic (1989)

book_worldThe World Doesn’t End by Charles Simic
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Throw a pebble into the pool and
see it dissolve into shimmering currents,
carrying burdens of ashen leaves that autumn
has swept beneath the silent tremors, teaming to cry
their laments; Or hide behind a ripe tree and cast a glance,
all the way to that faint window where a boy, on one palm,
is counting stars and fanning the other to soothe
his bruises and in his eyes, dances the night,
like a celebrating comet, about to go ablaze
in just a matter of Time; Time—
the lizard in the sunlight. 

It doesn’t move, but its eyes are
wide open. They love to gaze into our faces
and hearken to our discourse.
A discourse that
Simic held more with his various selves than anyone else,
than anything else; like a rigid child who insisted on
crossing the river on his favorite boat, he
rummaged the sack of his life
at random ages,
at natural, magical stages,
to retrieve a moment of ordinary thread
with extraordinary binding; binding dreams
with reality, like some hidden scribbling resembling
‘Margaret was copying a recipe for
“saints roasted with onions” from an
old cook book. The ten thousand
sounds of the world
were hushed so
we could hear
the scratchings of her pen.
The saint was asleep in the bedroom
with a wet cloth over his eyes. Outside the window,
the author of the book sat in a flowering apple tree killing
lice between his fingernails.’
The sagacity to hear the
stifling voices flapping their wings in
various rooms that never opened to
the world since they made
a poor show of the
rebellious soul,
that malnourished,
fledgling orator who lost his speech
often to collective stupidity of the vanity-laden world,
gave Simic a sword-sharp wit that with a shrewd demeanor,
he slipped into a scabbard of satire, and time and again,
scalped it through obnoxious conventions
to send a biting message to the society
of its vain duplicity; that
if evaporation were
to be the fate of compassion
and goodwill, the same might get
extrapolated to man; like that man who
exchanged clothes with his dog. It was a dog on two legs,
wearing a tuxedo, that they led to the edge of the common
grave. As for the man, blind and deaf as he came to be,
he still wags his tail at the approach of a stranger.

A certain disdain runs deep in Simic’s voice,
the effect of a bitter tonic of lost time
and least treasures perhaps;
or the aftermath of
bitter winter
in life
that stood frozen
for a long time, much beyond
what a child or a teen can bear
or attempt to bear. He seemed to have
felt the thuds of displacement and animosity,
partly due to his destiny and partly, due to his own doing.
But he was quick to note that the rigmarole of events
wed the counts of breath with an unbreakable vow
and swapping places with the
occasional offender
was but
a natural prescription
for keeping this bond going.
He was vocal about it when He said,
‘The salesgirls of Nowhere are going home at the end
of the day. I must assure myself of their reality by begging
one for a dime. She obliges and even gives me a
little peck on the forehead. I’m ready to
throw aside my crutches and walk
but another wags her finger
at me and tells me
to behave myself.’

He behaved, he raved,
he saved the world in the
half-inked sheets of his poems;
he didn’t fill them all up for who knew
what might come crashing onto the
parched heart and the restless mind some day,
shooting a compelling need to accommodate them all
in the song swaying life? After all, it shines,
it mellows, it changes but this world doesn’t end, does it?
road_to_eternity_by_chupadnb-d2eya3m

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[Image courtesy deviantart.net ]

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