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SIMIC, Charles


for Tomaz, Susan and George

Only brooms

Know the devil

Still exists,

That the snow grows whiter

After a crow has flown over it,

That a dark dusty corner

Is the place of dreamers and children,

That a broom is also a tree

In the orchard of the poor,

That a hanging roach there

Is a mute dove.

Brooms appear in dreambooks

As omens of approaching death.

This is their secret life.

In public, they act like flat-chested old maids

Preaching temperance.

They are sworn enemies of lyric poetry.

In prison they accompany the jailer,

Enter cells to hear confessions.

Their short-end comes down

When you least expect it.

Left alone behind a door

Of a condemned tenement,

They mutter to no one in particular,

Words like virgin wind moon-eclipse,

And that most sacred of all names:

Hieronymous Bosch.

In this and in no other manner

Was the first ancestral broom made:

Namely, they plucked all the arrows

From the bent back of Saint Sebastian.

They tied them with a rope

On which Judas hung himself.

Stuck in the stilt

On which Copernicus

Touched the morning star...

Then the broom was ready

To leave the monastery.

The dust welcomed it -

The great pornographer

Immediately wanted to

Look under its skirt.

The secret teaching of brooms

Excludes optimism, the consolation

Of laziness, the astonishing wonders

Of a glass of aged moonshine.

It says: the bones end up under the table.

Bread-crumbs have a mind of their own.

The milk is you-know-who's semen.

The mice have the last squeal.

As for the famous business

Of levitation, I suggest remembering:

There is only one God

And his prophet is Mohammed.

And then finally there's your grandmother

Sweeping the dust of the nineteenth century

Into the twentieth, and your grandfather plucking

A straw out of the broom to pick his teeth.

Long winter nights.

Dawns a thousand years deep.

Kitchen windows like heads

Bandaged for toothache.

The broom beyond them sweeping,

Tucking in the lucent grains of dust

Into neat pyramids,

That have tombs in them,

Already sacked by robbers,

Once, long ago.