Pascal's Idea

Charles Simic

My insignificance is a sign of my greatness.
Marvel, draw back
As I scurry in my roachlike way
Through these greasy kitchens
With their bloody knives
And their fat-assed cooks
Bent over the steaming pots.

My life is a triumph over the world’s connivances
And blind chance.
I found the poison you left for me
Extremely nourishing.

Once I sipped milk out of a saucer left for the cat.
Once I ran across a birthday cake
With its candles already lit.
It was terrifying and I suppose a bit like
What your heaven and hell combined must be.

Charles Simic was a Serbian-American poet and essayist. Born in Belgrade, he and his family immigrated to America when he was in high school. He won numerous prizes for his poetry, including the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, and served as the United States Poet Laureate.
Originally published:
July 1, 1993


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