Monday, October 26, 2009

The Altar

I wrote about Garrison Keillor earlier this month. I have found new poets to love in his collections of poetry. Two of the ones I am most glad to find are Charles Simic and Lisel Mueller. I think one of the reasons I like this poem so much is that I have little altars everywhere: on my bedside table, in the console of my car, on the window sill at the kitchen sink. I mostly display things that remind me of happy occurrences, but also things that bring to mind a certain attitude, like gratefulness and generosity and loveliness.

Here is poem number three in my installment of Project40.

The Altar by Charles Simic

The plastic statue of the Virgin
On top of a bedroom dresser
With a blackened mirror
From a bad-dream grooming salon.

Two pebbles from the grave of a rock star,
A small, grinning wind-up monkey,
A bronze Egyptian coin
And a red movie-ticket stub.

A splotch of sunlight on the framed
Communion photograph of a boy
With the eyes of someone
Who will drown in a lake real soon.

An Altar dignifying the god of chance.
What is beautiful, it cautions,
Is found accidentally and not sought after.
What is beautiful is easily lost.

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