:: Article

Ghost Cinema

By Charles Simic.


You return less often,
Unknown girl,
Return for a spell
As if you’ve left something behind
You’ve been given
Little time to look for
In a huge room lit so poorly
I can’t even be sure you are there.

O fading memory!
The sound of a calliope drifting
One summer evening.
The fairgrounds across the river
Like a birthday cake
With lots of burning candles,
And our two somber faces
Reflected in the same window.

Two strangers hired at a drunken party
To appear in a film
Being shot that night,
Strip for the camera
And act like sweethearts
On a bare mattress laid out for their use
On a warehouse floor
Under the bright spotlights.

Standing afterwards
With their foreheads touching
As if about to be hung
By a single rope
From the high ceiling,
Then stepping away,
Dressing with eyes averted,
And going their separate ways
In the first light of dawn.


Charles Simic (b. 1938) was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. He emigrated to the United States with his family in 1949, settled in Chicago, and attended the University of Chicago. He served briefly in the army before completing his B.A. at New York University. Simic’s work has won numerous awards, among them the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” the Griffin International Poetry Prize, and, simultaneously, the Wallace Stevens Award and appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate. He taught English and creative writing for over thirty years at the University of New Hampshire.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, May 13th, 2012.