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“Errata”

Where It Says Snow, Read Teeth-Marks of a Virgin

Where It Says Snow,
Read Teeth-Marks of a Virgin

The name of this poem is “Errata,” written by the Serbian-born poet Charles Simic, who in 2007 was appointed as Poet Laureate of his adopted country. As an Eastern European myself, I find myself drawn to poets like Simic, Czeslaw Milosz, Wislawa Szymborska, and Joseph Brodsky. Perhaps it is because, in their struggles with the vise-grip of Communism, they found a way out.

Errata by Charles Simic

Where it says snow
read teeth-marks of a virgin
Where it says knife read
you passed through my bones
like a police-whistle
Where it says table read horse
Where it says horse read my migrant’s bundle
Apples are to remain apples
Each time a hat appears
think of Isaac Newton
reading the Old Testament
Remove all periods
They are scars made by words
I couldn’t bring myself to say
Put a finger over each sunrise
it will blind you otherwise
That damn ant is still stirring
Will there be time left to list
all errors to replace
all hands guns owls plates
all cigars ponds woods and reach
that beer-bottle my greatest mistake
the word I allowed to be written
when I should have shouted
her name