10 January 2011

Wish I'd Have Said That

I recently came across a beautiful poem by the Charles Simic, prompting me to reach up to the book-shelf and retrieve Hotel Insomnia, the poet's 1992 collection.

Here's a favorite:
STUB OF A RED PENCIL

You were sharpened to a fine point
With a rusty razor blade.
Then the unknown hand swept the shavings
Into its moist palm
And disappeared from view.

You lay on the desk next to
The official-looking document
With a long list of names.
It was up to us to imagine the rest:
The high ceiling with its cracks
And odd shaped water stains;
The window with its view
Of roofs covered with snow.

An inconceivable, varied world
Surrounding your severe presence
On every side,
Stub of a red pencil.

2 comments:

DP Greenberg said...

The pencil stub image reminds me that my mother once worked for Revlon (Revson), probably in the early 40s. They were so stingy that, before they'd give a secretary a new pencil, she had to hand in the used up stub. This enlightened policy prompted a form of industrial espionage in which members of the secretarial pool deliberately broke pencils in order not to have to work them down to the nub. My mother also believed she was fired from her position because the firm had a Jewish quota, which is interesting considering Revson's current progressively-oriented Jewish charitable funding. She was later fired from her secretarial job at the National Maritime Union for being a communist, so I think she knew how to make distinctions about the grounds on which she lost a job.

Andy Bachman said...

Thanks for the story David--a great testimony to what good poetry can sometimes prompt.