I brought you a book, said Pablo. A book? said Blurtso. Yes, said Pablo, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Oh boy! said Blurtso. A Cookbook!
These are the longest recipes I’ve ever seen!
“Blurtso sings the donkey electric”
I sing the donkey electric!
A song of asses I sing, near and far!
Asses on hills, asses in fields, asses in herds,
more bountiful than the once-bountiful buffalo,
asses on land and asses at sea, asses short, skinny, fat and tall!
Multitudes of asses, spanning these star-spangled states!
I have perceived that to be an ass
is to be enough.
The ears of the ass are sacred, delicate,
twitching receptacles of sound,
assiduous antennae registering, recording all,
the hooves of the ass are no less
than the slippers of sultans
striding silken alfombras and seraglio stone,
the snout of the ass and his nostrils—a dual lamp
of Aladdin—inhaling flowery fragrance,
leading to wished-for fiestas of pumpkin pleasure,
the ass’s tail, though stumpy or small, and swatting flies,
is a palm fanning reclining Cleopatra,
his teeth, precious jade, are greened and polished
by the grass of a thousand fields,
his attentive eyes and friendly balance of features,
—courtly countenance and caryatid composure—
no less perfect than the visage of Helen.
Such asses I see, to the north and to the south!
From blistering bivouacs of winter
to blazing battalions of summer,
Patagonia to Peloponnese, Malibu to Manhattan,
Concord to Cambridge, every here
and every there, asses I see! Brown, grey,
yellow, red, purple, orange, azure asses!
Asses in other climes, asses in other times,
French, British, Australian, Arabian, Asian asses!
Eating every blade of grass, an ass!
Trampling every leaf that falls, a hoof!
Wading every stream that sings,
a snout, a snort, and a bray!
Hee-haw goes the jack!
Hee-haw goes the jenny!
Hee-haw go the judge and jury and judged!
Hee-haw from the dell! Hee-haw from the glen!
Hee-haw at mid-day! Hee-haw at the moon!
I see the resigned ass, bearing a load,
obeying the coax of his lord,
I see the boisterous ass braying,
in the barn, his bonny bray,
I see the amorous ass (of these there are many),
expressing exigencies by day and by night,
I see farms, fields, freeways and burgs,
each in their way, replete with asininities,
I see the asinine politician, professor, and poet,
each one leaving a brand on the asses of asses.
And the asses of yore, you ask, where are they
with their clip and clop on the stones of the street?
Les ânes voici! I say! Les ânes voici!
Heeding the whinny and neigh,
and ass-bray of the future!
What song do I sing? (you ask and I reply),
I sing the song of asses!
Certain, and stoic, and strong!
From each face an ass!
From each office, family, and farm!
Asses I sing! Avalanches of asses!
I sing! I sing a song of asses!
I sing the donkey electric!
Pablo Neruda’s Cien sonetos de amor
translated by Alan Davison
Matilde, name of plant or stone or wine,
name of all that’s born of the soil and lasts,
word in whose blossoms the day breaks,
in whose summer explodes the light of lemons.
In that name wooden ships sail
encircled by swarms of marine-blue fire,
and those letters are the water of a river
that flows into my calcified heart.
Oh name uncovered beneath a tangle of vines
like the door of an unknown tunnel
that leads to the fragrance of the world!
Oh invade me with your burning mouth,
pierce me, if you like, with your nocturnal eyes,
but in your name let me sail, and sleep.
Love, how many roads to arrive at a kiss,
how much misguided solitude to find you!
The trains continue to roll, alone in the rain.
In Taltal even the spring does not dawn.
But you and I, my love, are together,
together from our clothes to our roots,
together in autumn, in water, in hips,
until we are only you, and only me, together.
To think how many stones the river washed away,
how much water was emptied by the Boroa,
to think that separated by trains and nations
you and I simply had to love each other,
mixed among the rest, among the men and women,
with the earth that plants and raises the carnations.
Bitter love, violet crowned with thorns,
bramble raised among so much passion,
lance of pains, blossom of rage,
by what roads and in what way did you find my soul?
Why did you precipitate your painful fire,
suddenly, among the cold leaves of my path?
Who taught you the steps that brought you here?
What flower, what stone, what smoke exposed my home?
The truth is the fearful night trembled,
the dawn filled each cup with its wine
and the sun established its celestial presence,
while cruel love ceaselessly stalked me,
until, piercing me with swords and spines,
it opened a burning road in my heart.
You must remember that moody mountain gorge
to which the palpitating aromas climbed,
and from time to time a bird dressed
in water and slowness; its winter suit.
You must remember the gifts of the earth:
stormy fragrance, clay of gold,
herbs of the brush, crazy roots,
magic thorns like swords.
You must remember the bouquet you brought,
bouquet of shadow and water with silence,
bouquet like a stone with ocean spray.
And that time was like never and always:
let’s go there where nothing is waiting
to find together all that awaits.
Don’t let night, air, or dawn touch you,
only the earth, the virtue of blossoms,
the apples that grow to the song of clear water,
the wet earth and resin of your fragrant land.
From Quinchamalí where they made your eyes
to your feet created for me at the border
you are the dark clay I know:
in your hips I touch again the bread of life.
Perhaps you didn’t know, Araucan lady,
that when before loving you I forgot your kisses
my heart continued remembering your mouth
and I went like a wounded man through the streets
until I understood I had encountered,
my love, my country of volcanoes and kisses.
In the forests, lost, I cut a dark branch,
and thirsting, I raised its whisper to my lips:
it was perhaps the voice of the rain crying,
a broken bell, or a wounded heart.
Something that from far off seemed
gravely obscure, covered with earth,
a cry muted by immense autumns,
by the half-open, humid shadow of leaves.
But there, waking from the dreams of the forest,
the hazel branch sang beneath my mouth
and its distant fragrance climbed through my senses
as if the roots I had abandoned, the lost land
of my youth, suddenly sought me,
and I stopped, wounded by the wild aroma.
“Come with me” I said—without anyone knowing
where and how my painful heart beat,
and for me there was no carnation or barcarole,
nothing but a wound opened by love.
I repeated: come with me, as if I was dying,
and no one saw the moon that bled in my mouth,
no one saw the blood that rose into silence.
Oh love, let’s forget that thorny star!
For that reason when I heard your voice repeat
“Come with me”—it was as if you unleashed
pain, love, and the fury of imprisoned wine
that rose from its sunken cellar,
and once again I felt in my mouth
the taste of blood, carnation, stone and fire.
If it weren’t that your eyes have the color of moon,
the color of morning with work, fire, and clay,
and captured, you have the agility of air,
if it weren’t that you are a week of amber,
if it weren’t that you are the golden moment
when autumn climbs the vines,
and are the bread the fragrant moon bakes
parading its flour through the sky,
oh, beloved, I would not love you!
In your arms I embrace all that exists,
sand, time, the flowering branch of the rain,
and everything lives so that I may live:
without even moving I can see it all:
in your life I behold every living thing.
With the crash of the wave against the untamed rock
clarity explodes and creates its rose,
and the circle of the sea is reduced to a spray of petals,
to a single drop of blue salt that falls.
Oh radiant magnolia unleashed in the foam,
magnetic traveler whose death blossoms
and eternally returns to be and not be,
broken salt, dazzling maritime movement.
Together you and I, my love, seal the silence,
while the ocean besieges its constant statues
and topples its towers of virtue and rapture,
because in the weave of those invisible threads,
the runaway water, the incessant sand,
we maintain the sole and assaulted tenderness.
Soft is my love, as if music and wood,
agate, cloth, wheat and transparent peaches
had erected a moving statue.
Toward the wave she directs her feisty freshness.
The sea splashes polished feet, copied
in the form recently wrought in the sand,
and her feminine fire of rose is now
a single bubble besieged by sea and sun.
Oh, let nothing touch you but the salty spray!
Don’t even let love break the unbroken spring!
My darling, reverberation of indelible foam,
let your hips impose upon the water
a new measure of swan or lily
and let your statue sail through the timeless crystal.
I hunger for your mouth, your voice, your hair,
and I go through the streets starving, silent,
bread does not sustain me, the dawn drives me wild,
I search for the liquid sound of your steps in the day.
I’m famished for the splash of your laugh,
for your hands the color of wild grain,
I hunger for the pale stone of your nails,
I want to eat your skin like an unblemished almond.
I want to eat the burning ray of your beauty,
the kingly nose of your proud face,
I want to eat the fleeting shadow of your lashes,
and come and go, famished, sniffing the dusk,
seeking you, stalking your hot heart
like a puma in the solitude of Quitratúe.
Full woman, carnal apple, hot moon,
thick aroma of sea grass, loam and light ground as one,
what dark clarity opens among your columns?
What ancient night does man touch with his senses?
Oh, to love is a journey with water and stars,
a journey of drowned air and outbursts of flour:
loving is a battle of lightning bolts,
and two bodies conquered by a single syrup.
Kiss by kiss I retrace your small infinity,
your margins, your rivers, your diminutive towns,
and the genital fire made delight
runs through the slender roads of the blood
until it surges like a nocturnal carnation,
until it is and isn’t a flash of light in the shadows.
The light that rises from your feet to your hair,
the firmness that encloses your delicate form,
is not of sea-shell pearl, never cold silver:
you are made of bread, bread beloved by the fire.
Flour erected its granary in you,
and sowed, increased by fertile years,
the double harvest of your breasts.
Meanwhile, my love was coal excavating earth.
Oh bread of forehead, bread of legs, bread of mouth,
bread I devour that is born with dawn each morning,
my dear one, my banner of bakeries,
fire gave you its lesson of blood,
flour read you its saintly sermon,
and bread taught you your words and aroma.
I lack time to celebrate the hairs of your head,
one by one I should count and praise them:
everyone wants to find the most beautiful eyes,
I just want to comb your hair.
In Italy they baptized you Medusa
for the curly high light of your locks.
I christen you my matted and tangled one:
only my heart knows the doors of your hair.
When you get lost in your tresses,
don’t forget me, remember that I love you,
don’t leave me alone without your hair
to travel the sad world of all the roads
that only have shadow, passing pains,
until the sun climbs the tower of your hair.
For a long time the earth has known you:
you’re as compact as wood or bread,
you’re the body and bouquet of solid substance,
you have the weight of acacia, of golden legume.
I know you exist not only because your eyes fly
and cast light on the world like an open window,
but also because they made you of clay
and baked you in a magic mud oven in Chillán.
The people pour out like air or water or cold
and they are vague, erased by the touch of time,
as if before dying they all broke to pieces.
You and I will fall like a stone in the tomb
but because our love was never consumed
we will continue living in every living thing.
I love the piece of earth you are,
because from the planetary meadows
I have no other star. You repeat
the multiplicity of the universe.
Your wide eyes are the light I keep
from extinguished constellations,
your skin throbs like the trails
a meteor travels in the rain.
From so much moon your hips were made for me,
from all the sun your deep mouth and its rapture,
from so much blazing light, like honey in the shadow,
came your heart seared by long red rays,
and so I go, traveling the fire of your form, kissing you,
small and planetary shape of dove and country.
I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,
or lance of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you like one loves certain dark things,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you like the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
inside itself, out of sight, the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love the close-held aroma
that rose from the earth lives hidden in my heart.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you directly without problems or pride:
I love you this way because I don’t know any other,
only this way in which “you” and “I” do not exist,
so near that your hand on my breast is my hand,
so near that you close your eyes when I close mine.
Through the mountains you come and go like the breeze
or the sudden stream that descends from the snow
and your undulating tresses accentuate
the lofty ornaments of sun in the trees.
All the light of Cáucaso falls on your form
as into a small interminable vase
in which the water changes its appearance and song
with each transparent sweep of the stream.
Through the hills you go, along the old road of warriors,
while below the enraged water shines
like a sword between walls of mineral hands,
until you suddenly receive from the forest
a branch or flash of blue flowers
and the unexpected arrow of a wild aroma.
While the grand foam of Isla Negra,
the blue salt, the sun on the waves, wash over you,
I watch the travails of the wasp
absorbed in the honey of its universe.
It comes and goes, balancing its linear blond flight,
as if trailing along an invisible wire
the elegance of its dance, the thirst of its waist,
the assassinations of its malignant needle.
Its rainbow is made of oranges and petroleum,
it hunts like an airplane among the grass,
it flies with the sound of sharpness, then it disappears,
while you emerge from the sea, naked,
and return to the world bathed in salt and sun,
a reverberating statue, a sword in the sand.
My ugly one, you are an uncombed chestnut,
my lovely one, you’re as beautiful as the wind,
my ugly one, from your one mouth they could make two,
my lovely one, your kisses are as fresh as watermelons.
My ugly one, where are your breasts hiding?
They’re as minimal as two goblets of wheat.
I’d prefer to see two moons upon your chest,
the gigantic towers of your domain.
My ugly one, the sea doesn’t carry your nails in its shop,
my lovely one, flower by flower, star by star,
wave by wave, I have tallied your form:
my ugly one, I love you for your waist of gold,
my lovely one, I love you for the furrow in your brow,
my love, I love you for your darkness and for your light.
Oh that all of love would open in me its mouth
so I would not suffer another moment without spring,
I didn’t sell anything but my hands into sorrow,
and now, beloved, let me linger with your kisses.
Cover the light of the open season with your aroma,
close the doors with the waves of your hair,
and don’t forget that if I wake and cry
it’s because in dreams I’m just a lost little boy
that looks among the leaves of night for your hands,
the touch of wheat you bring me,
the flashing rapture of passion and shadow.
Oh beloved, let there be nothing but darkness
on the path where you take me in your dreams,
where you tell me the hour and minute of light.
So many times, love, I loved you without seeing you,
maybe without memory, without recalling your glance,
without noticing you, pink flower, in hostile regions,
in the fire of noon: you were the aroma of the harvest I love.
Maybe I saw you, or imagined you, when I passed by,
raising a toast in Angol to the light of moon in summer,
or you were the waist of the guitar I touched in the night
that sang with the sound of a measureless sea.
I loved you without knowing, I searched for your memory
in empty houses, I entered by night to steal your portrait,
but already knew what you looked like. Suddenly
while you traveled with me I touched you and my life stopped:
you were standing before my eyes, commanding me as you still do.
Like a blaze in the woods, yours is the kingdom of fire.
The fire was light, and the embittered moon bread,
the jasmine duplicated its starry secret,
and from terrifying love your soft pure hands
gave peace to my eyes and sun to my senses.
Oh love, how suddenly from heart-rending wounds
you raised an edifice of sweet firmness,
you conquered the jealous and malignant claws,
and today, facing the world, we are one single life.
That’s how it was, and how it is, and how it will be,
until the moment, wild and sweet love, beloved Matilde,
that time shows us the final flower of day.
Without you, without me, without light, we will cease to be,
but far beyond the earth and the shadow
the fire of our love will go on living.
Love, love, the clouds rose to the tower of the sky
like triumphant washerwomen with their sheets,
and everything burned blue, everything was star:
the sea, the ship, the day, set sail as one.
Come see the cherry woods of the starry water
and the round secret of the rapid universe,
come touch the fire of instantaneous blue,
come, before its petals are consumed.
There’s nothing here but light, quantities, clusters,
space opened by the virtues of the wind
that reveals the last secrets of the foam.
And among so many celestial blues, submerged,
our eyes are lost, scarcely divining
the powers of the air, the keys beneath the waves.
Before loving you, love, nothing was mine:
I stumbled through streets and things:
nothing mattered or went by name:
the world belonged to an expectant air.
I entered ashen rooms,
tunnels inhabited by the moon,
cruel caverns that said good-bye,
questions that insisted in the sand.
Everything was empty, dead and deaf,
fallen, abandoned and decayed,
everything was inalienably alien,
everything belonged to others and no one,
until your beauty and poverty
filled the autumn with gifts.
Neither the color of the terrible dunes in Iquique,
nor the estuary of the Río Dulce de Guatemala,
altered your conquered profile in the wheat,
your style of bulging grape, your mouth of guitar.
Oh heart, oh love of mine after so much silence,
from the peaks where the tangled vine ruled
to the desolate plains of platinum,
in every pure land the earth repeated your form.
But nothing altered your shape of traveling grain,
not the wild hand of mineral mountains,
nor the Tibetan snow, nor the Polish stone,
as if clay, wheat, guitars or flowers
from Chillán defended in you their domain,
imposing the mandate of the untamed moon.
Naked you are as simple as one of your hands,
smooth, earthy, minimal, round, transparent,
you have lines of moon, avenues of apple,
naked you are as slender as naked wheat.
Naked you are blue like the night in Cuba,
you have vines and stars in your hair,
naked you are limitless and yellow
like summer in a church of gold.
Naked you are as small as one of your nails,
curved, subtle, pink, until day breaks
and you slip into the world’s darkness
into a long tunnel of suits and responsibilities:
your clarity is extinguished, is clothed, loses its leaves,
until it returns once more to be a naked hand.
Love, from seed to seed, planet to planet,
from the net of the wind with its dark countries
and the war with its shoes of blood,
from the day and night of the sprout.
Wherever we went, islands or bridges or flags,
violins of the fleeting bullet-riddled autumn,
happiness repeated the lips of the goblet,
and pain arrested us with its lesson of tears.
In every republic the wind unfurled
its unstained flag, its glacial tresses,
and the flower returned to its labors.
But in us the autumn never grew old.
And in our personal kingdom love was born
and blossomed with the blessings of dawn.
You come from the poverty of the houses in the South,
from hard regions cold with earthquakes,
so hard that when their gods rolled to their deaths
they taught us a lesson of life in the clay.
You’re a black little oven-cooked horse, a kiss
of dark earth, a poppy of potter’s clay,
a dove of twilight that flew along the roads,
a moneybox filled with tears from an impoverished past.
Little girl, you’ve conserved your poor girl’s heart,
your poor girl’s feet accustomed to stones,
your mouth that often went without bread or pleasure.
You’re from the poor South, where my heart was born:
in their heaven, your mother continues to wash clothes
with my mother, and that’s why I chose you, my love.
You have the fiber of larch from the islands,
flesh worked by centuries of time,
veins that knew the seas of timber,
green blood fallen into memory from the sky.
No one can recover my lost heart
among the roots of my youth, in the bitter cool
of the sun reflecting on the furious water;
that’s where the shadow lives that won’t go with me.
That’s why, when you emerged from the South
like an island occupied and crowned by woods and feathers,
I smelled the aroma of roaming forests,
I found the dark honey that I knew in the jungle,
and I touched in your hips the somber petals
that were born with me, and shaped my soul.
With laurels from the South and oregano from Lota
I crown you, little monarch of my bones,
and you’ll always wear that crown
woven by the earth with balsam and leaves.
You are, like the one who loves you, from green regions
where wet earth runs in the blood,
and we walked through the city, lost like so many others,
fearing we wouldn’t get to market on time.
Beloved, your shadow has the fragrance of plums,
your eyes hid their roots in the South,
your heart is a dove made of potter’s clay,
your body is smooth like stones in a stream,
your kisses are flowers wet with dew,
and living next to you I live with the earth.
The house in the morning with the truth tossed about
in sheets and feathers, the beginning
of the directionless day, adrift like a poor ship
sailing between horizons of order and sleep.
The objects want to drag along traces,
pointless adherences, cold habits,
the papers hide their wrinkled vowels
and in the bottle the wine wants to relive yesterday.
But you go by, organizing, vibrating like a bee,
reaching into places lost in the shadow
conquering the day with your white energy.
And clarity is restored once more:
the objects obey the wind of life,
and order establishes its bread and its dove.
Love, let’s leave soon for home
where the vines ascend the steps:
before you get to your room the naked summer
will have arrived with its honeysuckle feet.
Our wandering kisses crossed the world:
Armenia, thick drop of unearthed honey,
Ceylon, green dove, and the Yang Tse separating
with ancient patience the days from the nights.
And now, beloved, by way of the crackling sea
we return like two blind birds to the wall,
to the nest of the faraway spring,
because love cannot fly without resting,
to the ledge or to the stones of the sea we go:
to our homeland our kisses sail, going home.
You are the daughter of the sea and the cousin of oregano,
when you swim your body is pure water,
when you cook your blood is living earth
and your habits are of flower and soil.
Your eyes look to the sea and waves rise,
your hands reach to the earth and seeds sprout,
in water and earth you have immeasurable powers
that circulate in you like the virtues of medicinal clay.
River nymph, your body cuts the turquoise water,
then later, resurrected, flowers in the kitchen
in such a way that you become all that exists,
and then you finally sleep, encircled in my arms
that push away from the shadow the foam of your dreams—
vegetables, seaweed, herbs—so you can rest.
Your hand went flying from my eyes to the day.
Light entered like a rosebush in bloom.
Sand and sky throbbed like a
crowning beehive carved in turquoise.
Your hands touched syllables that clinked and jingled,
wine glasses, bottles, yellow oils,
blossoms, running water, and above all, love,
my love: your sacred hand, protector of spoons.
The afternoon passed. The night secretly spread
its celestial capsule over the dream of man.
The honeysuckle released its sad untamed smell.
Then your hand returned from its flight flying
to fold its wings—wings I feared lost—
over my eyes devoured by the night.
Heart of mine, queen of celery and the kneading bowl,
little leopard of thread and onion:
I like to see your small kingdom shine,
its weapons—wax, wine, oil,
garlic, earth opened by your hands,
blue substance set afire by your touch,
transmigration from sleep to salad,
reptile coiled in the garden hose.
You, with your pruning shears releasing aroma,
you, steering the soap through the foam,
you, climbing my crazy ladders and stairs,
you, deciphering the scratchings of my pen
and finding in the sand of my notebook
the lost letters that were seeking your mouth.
Oh love, oh crazy flash and sacred purple threat,
you visit me and climb, on fresh steps,
the castle that time crowned with fog,
the pale walls of my shuttered heart.
No one could know it was only my softness
glazing windows hard as cities,
and my blood opening unhappy tunnels
powerless to conquer winter’s reign.
That’s why, love, your mouth, your skin, your light,
your sorrows, were the patrimony of life,
the sacred gifts of the rain, of the living world
that receives and raises the swollen seed,
the secret storm of wine in the bodegas,
the sudden blaze of grain in the soil.
Your house sounds like a train at noon,
bees buzz, pots sing, falling water
enumerates the achievements of dawn,
and your laughter releases its palm-tree serenade.
The blue light of the wall speaks with the stone,
it arrives like a shepherd singing the news of the day
and between two green-voiced fig trees
Homer strolls along on noiseless shoes.
Only here does the city lack voice or lament,
tiresome chores, sonatas, lips, horns,
and has instead a discourse of waterfall and lions,
and you, you who ascend, sing, run, walk, descend,
plant, sew, cook, hammer, write, return:
when you’re gone, the winter begins.
I forgot that your hands satisfied
the roots, watering entangled flowers,
until the trail of your fingerprints bloomed
in the plenary peace of nature.
The hoe and water are your pets,
they follow you, biting, licking the earth,
and that’s how, working, you impart
fertility, the fiery freshness of carnations.
Love and honor of bees I ask for your hands
that mix their transparent blood in the earth,
and even in my heart they plow the soil,
in such a way that, with you, I am the charred stone
that suddenly sings because it drinks
the forest waters carried on your voice.
It was green, the silence, wet was the light,
the month of June trembled like a butterfly
and in the regions of the South, from its sea and stones,
Matilde, you traversed the light of noon.
You were loaded with ferruginous flowers,
seaweed that the southern wind torments and forgets,
and your hands, still white and split by devouring salt,
set to work raising sprouts from the sand.
I love your pristine gifts, your skin of untouched stone,
your nails offered up in the sun of your fingers,
your mouth overflowing with every existing joy,
but, for my house at the edge of the abyss,
give me the tormented system of silence,
the banner of waves, swallowed in the sand.
Misfortunes of the month of January when indifferent
noon establishes its equation in the sky,
a hard gold like the wine of a brimming cup
fills the earth to its borders of blue.
Misfortunes of this season akin to small grapes
that gather together their bitter green,
confused, hidden tears of the days,
until the storm spreads its branches on the sky.
Yes, seeds, pains, and all things that palpitate
with fear, grow ripe in the sizzling first-month sun,
and burn like fruit burning on the trees.
The sorrows will be divided, the soul
will strike a blow of wind, but the home
will remain clean with fresh bread on the table.
Radiant days balanced by the waves of the sea,
concentrated like the inside of a yellow stone
whose honey splendor, unconquered by chaos,
preserves its rectangular purity.
Yes, the hour crackles like fire or bees,
and it’s a green task to become so covered with leaves
that up toward the heights the foliage becomes
a twinkling world that flames out and whispers.
Thirst of fire, scorching multitude of summer
that fashions an Eden with so many leaves,
because the dark-faced earth doesn’t want miseries
but rather freshness, fire, water, and bread for all,
and nothing should separate man from man
but the sun, the night, the moon, the sprouts.
One trace of you I seek in all the others,
in the sudden, undulating river of women,
braids, eyes that can scarcely look away,
white feet that glide, sailing on the foam.
Suddenly it seems I can make out your nails,
oblong, fugitive, nieces of the cherry tree,
and another time it’s your hair that passes,
and in the water I see your portrait of fire.
I looked, but none of them had your pulse,
your light, the dark clay you brought from the forest,
not one had your tiny little ears.
You are all of them made one, one made all,
and so I go with you, traveling and loving
a wide Mississippi of flowing female waters.
You know that I do and I don’t love you,
because life has two faces,
words have a wing of silence,
and fire has a sliver of cold.
I love you in order to start loving you,
to reaffirm infinity
and to never stop loving you:
that’s why I still don’t love you.
I love you and don’t love you as if I had
the keys in my hands to happiness
and an uncertain future of misfortune.
My love has two lives to love you.
That’s why I love you when I don’t love you
and why I love you when I do.
Don’t be distant a single day, because how,
because—I can’t find the words—the day is long
and I’ll be waiting, as in a station when the train
has fallen asleep someplace down the line.
Don’t leave me for even an hour, because
in that hour drops of anxiety will gather
and the smoke that’s seeking a home
will find me, and silence my heavy heart.
Oh don’t let your silhouette expire on the sand,
oh don’t let your eyelids fly away:
don’t leave me for even a minute, my love,
because in that minute you’ll have gone so far
that I’ll have to cross the earth asking
if you will return, or leave me to die.
Of all the stars I admired, bathed
by different rivers and dawns,
I chose only the one I loved,
and now I sleep with the night.
From the waves, one and then another,
green sea, cold green, green spray,
I chose a single wave:
the unbroken wave of your body.
All the drops, all the roots,
all the threads of light came,
they came to see me, early or late.
But I wanted only your hair,
and of all the blessings of my land
the only one I chose was your untamed heart.
I want to see you behind me on the branch.
Little by little you grew into a fruit.
It wasn’t hard for you to climb from your roots,
singing with your syllables of sap.
And here you are, first a fragrant flower,
then remodeled as the statue of a kiss,
until the sun and earth, the blood and sky,
shower you with sweetness and delight.
On the branch I see your hair,
your shape ripening in the foliage,
bending its leaves to my thirst,
then your substance fills my mouth,
the kiss that rose from the earth
with your blood of enamored fruit.
Two happy lovers make a single bread,
a single drop of moonlight in the grass,
walking, their two shadows make one,
and their bed preserves the print of a single sun.
Of all good things, the lovers chose daylight:
they weren’t tied with strings, but with aroma,
and they didn’t pick apart peace or words.
Happiness is a transparent tower.
Air and wine go with the lovers,
the night grants them its happy petals,
and they have the key to every carnation.
Two happy lovers don’t have an end or death,
they are born and die many times while they live,
they persist in the eternity of natural things.
It is today: all of yesterday fell away
between fingers of light and eyes of sleep,
tomorrow will arrive with green steps:
no one can stop the river of dawn.
No one can stop the river of your hands,
the eyes of your dreams, beloved,
you’re a tremor of time that passes
among vertical light and shadowy sun,
and the sky closes its wings around you,
lifting and bringing you to my arms
with punctual, mysterious courtesy.
That’s why I sing to the day and the moon,
to the sea, to time, to the planets,
to your daily voice and nocturnal skin.
Cotapos says that your laughter swoops down
like a falcon from a sudden tower,
and it’s true, you flash through the foliage
with a single bolt of celestial blood
that falls and cuts, releasing tongues of dew,
sprays of diamonds, flames of bees,
and there, where silence lived with its beard,
the sun and stars explode like grenades,
the somber night is brought to its knees,
bells and carnations burn beneath the moon
and the harness-maker’s horses run free
because you, as small as you are,
let loose the meteor of your laughter,
electrifying the very name of nature.
Your laughter belongs to a tree torn open
by a flash, by a silver bolt of lightning
that falls from the sky breaking the branches,
dividing the trunk with a single sword.
Only in the highlands with snowy leaves
is born a laughter like yours, my love,
it’s the laughter of air unleashed in the heights,
born of Araucan blood, my love.
Oh mountain girl of mine, conspicuous shrieker,
cut the shadows with the knives of your laughter,
cut the night, the morning, the honey of noon,
and let the birds leap from the branches
when your unbridled lavishing light,
your laughter, tears in two the tree of life.
You sing, and with your song your voice
separates the day’s grain into sun and sky,
the pines talk with green tongues:
all the birds of winter whistle a tune.
The sea fills its cellars with footsteps,
with bells, chains, and groans,
the day’s metals clink and jingle,
the wheels of the caravan squeal.
But I hear only your voice that rises
with the flight and sureness of an arrow,
your voice that descends with the gravity of rain,
dispersing noble and princely swords,
then returns charged with violets
to accompany me through the sky.
Here is bread, wine, table, home:
everything necessary for man, woman and life:
to this place rushed vertiginous peace,
in this light burned a common burning.
Honor to your two hands that fly preparing
the white products of kitchen and song!
Blessed be the integrity of your scurrying feet!
Long live the dancer who dances with the broom!
Those sudden rivers with waters and threats,
that tormented banner of sea foam,
those incendiary honeycombs and reefs
are today this repose of your blood in mine,
this river, starry and blue as night,
this never-ending simplicity of tenderness.
Splendid power of reason, bright devil
of the dogmatic branch, of unimpeachable noon,
here we are at last, alone and not alone,
far from the insanity of the savage city.
When the pure line circles its dove
and the fire bestows on peace its sustenance,
you and I come to this heavenly conclusion.
Reason and love will live, naked, in this house.
Furious plans, rivers of bitter certainty,
decisions harder than a hammer’s dreams
fell into the double wineglass of lovers,
until on the scale both sides rose, identical,
reason and love, like two wings,
and transparency was born from the balance.
Thorns, broken glass, disease and tears
besiege the honey of happiness by day and by night,
and nothing keeps them away, guard towers, vacations, walls:
misery pierces the peace of our dreams.
Pain rises and falls, offering up its spoonfuls,
and no one is immune to it,
no births, no roofs, no fences:
it’s always there, screaming to be noticed.
And hiding your eyes in love is futile,
in deep beds far from the laments of the wounded,
or from the person destroying his country’s flag day after day.
Because life throws punches like anger or rushing water
and opens a bloody tunnel through which we are watched
by the eyes of an immense family of pains.
Get used to seeing my shadow behind me,
and let your hands emerge, transparent, from its rancor,
as if they were created in the morning of the sea:
the salt gave you, my love, its share of crystal.
Envy suffers, dies, and is consumed in my song.
One by one its sad captains expire.
I speak of love, and the world bursts with doves.
Every syllable I chant calls forth the spring.
Then you, flowery one, heart, beloved,
appear over my eyes like the leaves of the sky,
and I see you spreading yourself on the earth.
The sun sifts through branches to light on your face,
and looking to the heavens I recognize your steps.
Matilde, my love, my crown, welcome to my home!
They lie who say I lost the moon,
those who prophesized my future of sand
and asserted countless things with cold tongues:
they wanted to outlaw the rose of the universe.
“Now he won’t sing of the surging amber
of the siren, now he has only the people.”
And they chewed their incessant papers
advocating oblivion for my guitar.
I threw at their eyes the dazzling spears
of our love that nail your heart to mine,
I reclaimed the jasmine left in your tracks,
I lost myself in the lightless night beneath your eyelids
and when clarity enveloped me
I was born anew, master of my own darkness.
Between the broad scimitars of literary iron
I pass like a foreign sailor
who doesn’t know the streets and sings
just because, just because, and why not?
From the tormented islands I brought my accordion,
along with storms, streaks of crazy rain,
and a slow habit of natural things:
everything that fashioned my untamed heart.
And so, when the teeth of literature
tried to bite my honorable heels,
I walked thoughtlessly, singing with the wind,
toward the rainy warehouses of my youth,
toward the cold forests of the indefinable South,
toward where my life was filled with the fragrance of you.
Poor poets whom life and death
chased with the same dark tenacity,
and then were covered by impassive pomposity,
handed over to ritual and the final tooth.
They—dark as small stones—now go,
laid out behind arrogant horses,
governed in the end by intruders,
between the soldiers, to sleep in silence.
Before, and now certain that the dead one is dead,
they make of the funeral a miserable feast
with turkeys, pigs, and other speakers.
They stalked his death and defiled it:
only because his mouth is now closed
and his song cannot rise to his defense.
You are wounded by the one who tried to wound me,
and the blow of venom directed my way
passes through the net of my chores
and leaves on you its stain of rust and insomnia.
I don’t want to see, my love, the hate meant for me
pass across the flowery moon of your forehead.
I don’t want someone else’s anger to leave its
useless crown of knives, forgotten, in your dreams.
Wherever I go bitter steps follow,
wherever I laugh a grimace reflects my face,
wherever I sing envy slanders, laughs, and gnaws.
And that, my love, is the shadow life has given me:
it’s an empty suit that limps along behind
like a smiling scarecrow with a bleeding smile.
Love brought its tail of sorrows,
its long static ray of thorns,
and we closed our eyes so that nothing,
so that no wound could part us.
Your eyes are not to blame for these tears:
your hands did not thrust this sword:
your feet did not seek this path:
still the dark honey made its way to your heart.
When the sea like an immense wave
cracked us against the hard rock,
kneaded us with a single flour,
pain fell on another sweet face
and in the light of the open season
the wounded spring was confirmed.
Poor me, poor us, beloved,
we only wanted love, to love each other,
and among so many pains it was decreed
that only we would be wounded.
We wanted the you and I of us,
the you of a kiss, the I of secret bread,
and that’s how it was, eternally simple,
until hatred flew through the window.
They hated, those who didn’t love our love,
nor any other love, those unfortunate ones
like chairs in an abandoned room,
until they snared themselves in ash
and the threatening face they possessed
was extinguished in the extinguished light.
Not only did I walk through the deserted lands where
the salty stone is the only rose, the flower buried by the sea,
but also along the banks of rivers that cut the snow.
The bitter heights of the mountains know my steps.
Tangled, whistling region of my wild home,
vines whose mortal kiss is chained in the forest,
wet lament of the bird that soars casting off shivers,
oh region of lost sorrows and inclement tears!
Not only do I claim the venomous skin of copper
and the extended saltpeter like a snowy reclining statue,
but also the vineyard, and the cherry tree blessed by spring.
I belong like a black atom to the arid lands
and to the light of autumn in the grapes,
to this metallic country raised by towers of snow.
From so much love my life was dyed violet
and I went from path to path like a blind bird
until I reached your window, my friend:
you heard a murmur of broken heart
and from the shadows I rose to your breast,
without being or knowing I flew to the tower of life,
I burst forth to live in your hands,
I soared from the sea to your happiness.
No one can calculate what I owe you, it’s blinding
what I owe, my love, and it’s like a root
from your native past, all that I owe, my love.
No doubt, everything I owe you is filled with stars,
and what I owe is like the well of a wild land
in which time has collected its lost flashes of light.
Matilde, where are you? I noticed, below,
between my tie and heart, and above,
a certain sadness in my ribs:
because you were suddenly not near.
I missed the light of your energy
and I looked with devouring hope,
I looked at the void in the house without you,
in which nothing remains but tragic windows.
In guarded silence the roof listens
to the falling of feathers, ancient leafless rains,
and all that night enclosed:
and so I wait like a lonely house
for you to return, and see, and inhabit me,
and soothe the slow ache in my windows.
I only love you because I love you,
and from loving to not loving I go,
and from waiting when I’m not waiting
my heart moves to fire from cold.
I only love you because I love you,
and I hate until hating I implore,
and the measure of my vagrant love
is to not see you and love you even more.
Perhaps the summer light will devour
my full heart with its heartless fire,
and leave me no peace, locked in my desire.
In this story I’m the only one who dies,
I die of love for the love that I desire,
because I love you, love, love with blood and fire.
The great rain of the south falls on Isla Negra
like a single drop, transparent and weighty,
the sea opens its cold leaves to receive it,
and the soil fulfills its humid destiny of goblet.
Soulmate, give me in your kisses the salty water
of these seas, the honey of the land,
its fragrance wet by the thousand lips of the sky,
the sacred patience of surf in winter.
Something calls us and the doors open by themselves,
the water recounts a long drama to the windows,
the sky descends until it touches the roots,
and thus the day weaves and unweaves its celestial net
with time, salt, whispers, expansions, roads,
a woman, a man, and the winter season on the earth.
LXVIII (head of ship’s prow)
The girl made of wood didn’t arrive on foot:
she was suddenly there, sitting on the bricks,
with old flowers from the sea on her head,
and eyes that peer with the sadness of roots.
There she remained, observing our open lives,
the going and being and walking and coming by land,
the day discoloring her enduring petals.
She kept vigil without seeing us, the woman of wood.
The girl crowned by ancient waves
watched with her defeated eyes:
she knew we lived in a distant net
of time and water, waves, sounds, and rain,
not knowing if we were real or just her dream.
This is the story of the young woman of wood.
Perhaps not to be is to be without you being,
without you going, cutting the noon sky
like a blue flower, without you walking,
later on, through the mist and stones,
without that light you carry in your hand
that perhaps others don’t see as golden,
that perhaps no one realized was growing
like the red origins of the rose,
without you being, in the end, without you coming,
sudden, inciting, into my life,
breath of roses, wheat of the wind,
and since then I am because you are,
and since then you are, I am, we are,
and by loving I’ll be, you’ll be, we’ll be.
Perhaps I go wounded, without bleeding,
through one of the rays of your life,
and in the midst of the jungle the water stops me:
the rain that descends with its sky.
Then I touch the water-soaked heart:
I know that your eyes entered there
through the expansive region of my pain
and a whisper of shadow emerges alone:
Who is it? Who is it? But it had no name,
the leaf or dark water that throbbed
in the midst of the jungle, deaf, in the road.
And so, my love, I realized I was wounded,
and no one was speaking but the shadow,
and the roaming night, and the kiss of the rain.
From sorrow to sorrow love crosses its islands
and establishes roots that tears must water,
and no one is able, no one can avoid the steps
of the heart that runs, silent and carnivorous.
And so you and I looked for a space, another planet
in which salt wouldn’t touch your tresses,
in which pain wouldn’t call because of me,
in which bread might live without dying.
A planet ensnared in space and foliage,
a desert, a cruel uninhabited stone,
we wanted to make a firm nest with our hands
without harm, without wound, without words,
but love was not like that, instead it was an insane city
where the people grow pale on their balconies.
My love, winter returns to its barracks,
the earth offers up its yellow gifts
and we run our hand over a distant land,
over the flowing locks of geography.
To depart! Today! Onward! Wheels, ships, bells,
iron birds moving through the daily infinity
toward the nuptial aroma of the islands,
through longitudinal flours of abundance!
Let’s go, get up, pin your hair, climb, descend,
run, and whistle with me and the air,
let’s leave for the trains to Arabia or Tocopilla,
with nothing to do but migrate towards the distant pollen,
towards piercing towns with rags and gardenias,
towards cities governed by shoeless Caesars.
You will remember, perhaps, that slender man
who emerged from the shadow like a knife
and before we knew it, he knew:
he saw smoke and was sure there was fire.
The pale woman with black hair
leapt like a fish from the abyss
and the couple erected against love
a machine armed with innumerable teeth.
They felled mountains and flowers,
descended to rivers, climbed walls,
and carried their fierce artillery through the hills.
Then love realized it was love.
And when I raised my eyes to your name
your heart instantly pointed out my path.
The road soaked by water in August
shines as if cut beneath a full moon,
beneath the ripe clarity of apples
in the middle of the bloom of autumn.
Fog, space or sky, the vague net of day
grows with cold dreams, noises and fish,
the mist of the islands combats the clarity,
the sea pulsates over the light of Chile.
Everything seeks its center like metal,
the leaves take shelter, winter masks its blood
and we go on blindly, endlessly, alone.
Alone and tied to the secret source
of movement, of good-byes, travel, roads:
farewell my friend, the tears of nature are falling.
This is the house, the sea and the flag.
We have been wandering along other walls.
We haven’t found a door or sound
since being gone, since being as good as dead.
After so much time the house opens its silence,
and we enter to survey the neglect,
the dead mice, the forgotten farewell,
the tears that fell from the faucets.
The house wept, it wept night and day,
groaning with spiders, half-open,
crumbling from its dark eyes,
and now, suddenly, we bring it back to life,
we people it and it doesn’t know us:
it wants to bloom, but doesn’t remember how.
Diego Rivera with the patience of a bear
searched in paint to find the jewel of the forest,
the sudden red flower in the blood,
and gathered the light of the world in your portrait.
He painted the imperial vesture of your nose,
the sparkle of your wide-open eyes,
your fingernails that feed the envy of the moon,
and upon your summer skin, your watermelon mouth.
He gave you two heads of live volcano
burning with fire and love and Araucan blood,
and upon the two golden faces of clay
he covered you with a helmet of wild fire
where my eyes were secretly entangled
in the towering spire of your hair.
Today is today with the weight of all time past,
with the wings of all that will be tomorrow,
today is the south sea, the countless years of the waves,
and the composition of a new day.
Into your mouth, lifted to the sun or moon,
fell the petals of a departed day,
and yesterday comes trotting down the street
so we won’t forget its funeral face.
Today, yesterday and tomorrow expire as they go,
we devour the days like roasted steer,
our livestock knows its time is near,
but into your heart time tossed its flour,
and my love built an oven with Temuco clay:
you are the daily bread for my famished soul.
I don’t have never, I don’t have always. In the sand
victory has left its forgotten footprints.
I’m a poor man disposed to love his neighbors.
I don’t know you. I love you. I don’t give or sell thorns.
Everyone knows I didn’t weave bloody crowns,
that I fought against humiliation
and filled my sea-loving soul with truth.
I rewarded villainy with doves.
I don’t have never because I was,
and am, and will be, different, and in the name
of my transforming love I proclaim purity.
Death is but a stone of oblivion.
I love you, and kiss happiness when I kiss your mouth.
Let’s gather wood. We’ll make fire on the mountain.
At night, beloved, bind your heart to mine
so that two hearts can conquer the shadows of sleep
like a double drum pounding in the forest
against a thick wall of dripping leaves.
Nocturnal crossing, black coal of sleep
cutting the thread of earthly grapes
with the punctuality of a headlong train
endlessly dragging stones and shadow.
And so, love, bind me to pure movement,
to the tenacity that beats in your heart
with the wings of a drowned swan,
so that our sleep can respond to the starry
questions of the sky with a single key,
with a single door, closed by the shadow.
From travels and sorrows I returned, my love,
to your voice, to your hand flying in the guitar,
to the fire that warms the autumn with kisses,
to the circulation of night in the sky.
For all men I request bread and dominion,
I request earth for the hapless worker:
don’t expect a truce from my blood and song.
I cannot renounce your love without dying.
And so, play the waltz of the peaceful moon,
strum the barcarole in the water of the guitar
until my head nods off dreaming:
all the sleepless hours of my life wove
this canopy in which your hand lives and flies
watching over the night of the sleeping traveler.
Now you are mine. Rest with your dream in my dream.
Love, pain, labors, can all retire now.
The night spins on its invisible wheels
and next to me you’re as pure as sleeping amber.
No one else, ever, my love, will sleep with my dreams.
You will go, we will go through the waters of time.
No one else will travel through the shadow with me,
only you, ever-living, ever-sun, ever-moon.
Now your hands open their delicate fists
and let fall sweet directionless signs,
your eyes close like two grey wings,
while I follow the water you carry that carries me:
the night, the world, and the wind unravel their fates,
until I don’t exist without you except as your dream.
My love, upon closing this night door
I ask of you a journey through darkness:
close your dreams, enter with your sky in my eyes,
extend yourself in my blood like a wide river.
Good-bye, good-bye cruel clarity that was falling
into the satchel of each passing day,
good-bye to each flash of orange or time,
cheers to the shadow, intermittent companion!
In this ship or water or death or new life,
united again, asleep, resurrected,
we consecrate the marriage of night in the blood.
I don’t know who lives or dies, who rests or wakes,
but I know your heart is the one
that leaves the gifts of light in my breast.
It’s good, love, to feel you next to me in the night,
veiled in your sleep, soundly nocturnal,
while I sort out my worries
like twisted and tangled nets.
Absent one, your heart sails through dreams,
but your abandoned body breathes,
seeking me without seeing, completing my dream
like a plant that doubles its size in the shadow.
When you rise, you’ll be someone different tomorrow,
but from the borders lost in the night,
from this present state of being and not being,
something brings us together in the light of life,
as if the enclosure of night was revealing
with its torch its secret creatures.
One more time, love, the net of the day extinguishes
work, wheels, fires, wheezings, good-byes,
and we give to the night the dancing wheat
that day drew from the light and the land.
Only the moon in the middle of its pure page
supports the pillars of the estuary of the sky,
the bedroom takes on the slowness of gold
and your hands flit and flutter, preparing the night.
Oh love, oh night, oh dome in the shadow of sky
closed by a river of impenetrable waters
that dislodges and drowns the day’s impassioned grapes,
until we are only a single dark space,
a cup into which the night empties its ashes,
a drop in the pulse of a long, meandering river.
From the sea to the streets the vague mist rolls in
like the breath of an ox buried in the cold,
and long tongues of water accumulate and cover
the season that promised to be heavenly.
Early autumn, whistling honeycomb of leaves,
when your banner waves over the towns
crazy women sing saying good-bye to the rivers,
and the horses whinny from here to Patagonia.
There’s a night plant that rises to your face,
silently coaxed by love, until it stretches
to the clicking horseshoes of the sky.
I bend over the fire of your nocturnal form
and love not only your breasts but also the autumn
that spreads through the fog its borderless blood.
Oh Southern Cross, oh clover of fragrant fire,
with four kisses today your beauty penetrated
and skewered the shadow of my hat:
the round moon journeyed through the cold.
Then with my love, with my lover, oh diamonds
of blue frost, serenity of the sky,
mirror, you appeared, and the night was filled
with your four flickering bodegas of wine.
Oh palpitating silver of polished and pure fish,
green cross, green sprig of the radiant shadow,
firefly condemned to the unity of the sky,
rest in me, let us close your eyes and mine.
Sleep, for a minute, with the night of man.
Ignite in me your four, star-filled numbers.
Three birds of the sea, three rays, three scissors,
sliced through the cold sky to Antofagasta
and left the air trembling:
everything shook like a wounded flag.
Solitude, give me the sign of your endless beginning,
the difficult path of cruel birds,
the throbbing that surely precedes
honey, music, sea, and birth.
(Solitude sustained by a constant face
like a grave flower endlessly stretching
to reach the unspoiled abundance of the sky)
Cold wings of the sea, of the islands, went flying
to the sands of Northwest Chile.
And the night bolted shut its celestial door.
The month of March returns with its hidden light
and enormous fish glide through the sky,
vague earthly mist advances in secret,
and one by one things fall silent.
Fortunately in this crisis of wandering weather
you have reunited the lives of water and fire,
the grey movement of the ship of winter,
the form that love imprinted on the guitar.
Oh dear one, rose bathed by sirens and waves,
fire that dances and climbs the invisible ladder
and wakes the blood in the tunnel of insomnia
so that the waves of the sky are consumed,
the sea forgets its gifts and lions,
and the world falls away inside its dark nets.
When I die I want your hands on my eyes:
I want the light and wheat of your beloved hands
to pass over me their freshness once more:
to feel the softness that changed my life.
I want you to live while I, asleep, wait for you,
I want your ears to continue catching the wind,
I want you to smell the ocean air we loved together,
I want you to continue to walk the sand that we walked.
I want what I love to go on living
and I loved and sang you above all things,
and so, keep flowering, my flower,
so that you can embrace all that my love can give,
so that my shadow can stroll through your hair,
so that everyone will know the reason I was singing.
I thought I would die, I felt the cold so near,
and of all I lived I was only losing you:
your mouth was my day and my night on earth
and your skin was the land conquered by my kisses.
In that moment all the books closed,
friendship, the treasures tirelessly accumulated,
the transparent home we built:
everything ceased to be, except for your eyes.
Because love is, while life assaults us,
simply one wave above the others,
but oh when death comes to call
there is only your eyes to fight so much nothing,
only your clarity to fight not continuing to be,
only your love to shut out and close the shadows.
Age covers us like drizzle,
time is endless and arid,
a spray of salt touches your face,
a slow drip corroded my skin:
time does not bestow honor in my hands
or a flight of oranges in yours:
it chops at life with snow and metal:
your life which is my life.
My life that I gave you fills with years,
like the fullness of a flowering branch.
The grapes will return to the earth.
And still down below time keeps working,
waiting, raining on the dust,
anxious to erase even what isn’t there.
My love, if I die and you don’t die,
my love, if you die and I don’t die,
don’t let sorrow steal our land:
there’s no expanse like the one we lived.
Dust on the wheat, sand on the sands,
time, wayward water, roaming wind,
carried us like a floating seedling.
We might never have found each other in time.
This meadow in which we met,
oh small infinity! we give back.
But this love, love, has not ended,
and just as it had no birth
it has no death, it’s like a long river,
flowing through multiple countries and kisses.
If your heart ever stops,
if fire ceases to surge through your veins,
if your voice disappears in your mouth without a word,
if your hands forget to fly and they sleep,
Matilde, love, leave your lips slightly parted,
because that final kiss will have to last me,
will have to remain ever-motionless on your mouth
so it can go with me, too, in my death.
I will die kissing your cold crazy mouth,
embracing the lost bouquet of your body,
and searching for the light of your closed eyes.
And so, when the earth receives our embrace,
we will go, mixed together in a single death,
to live forever the endless night of a kiss.
If I die, go on living with such clear strength
that you make fire out of pallor and cold,
from south to south lift your indelible eyes,
from sun to sun let your guitar mouth sing.
I don’t want your laughter to waver nor your steps,
I don’t want to let my joyful legacy die,
don’t knock at my breast, I’m gone.
Live in my absence as you would in a house.
Absence is a house so big
you can walk through the walls
and hang paintings on the air.
Absence is a house so transparent
that I’ll see you living, even in death,
and if you suffer, my love, I will die again.
Who else loved like we did? Let’s scour
the ancient ashes of burnt hearts
and let our kisses fall there, one by one,
until the abandoned flower is revived.
Let’s love the love that consumed its blossoms
and descended to the earth with courage and strength:
you and I are the light that continues,
its unbreakable, delicate sprout.
Let’s shine a light on love, covered by cold time,
buried by snow and spring, by autumn and oblivion,
a light of new apple, a light
of freshness opened by a new wound,
like the love of dead lovers that walk in silence
through an eternity of buried mouths.
I think, this time in which you loved me
will continue through some other blue,
some other skin on similar bones,
some other eyes that will see the spring.
Not one person who tied up our time,
who conversed with smoke,
governments, merchants, transients,
will continue dancing on his strings.
The heartless gods with spectacles will vanish,
the bald carnivores with books,
the swollen bloodsuckers and twittering fools.
And when the world is washed clean
other eyes will be born in the water
and the wheat will grow without tears.
We have to fly these days, but where?
Without wings, without a plane, we still have to fly:
the footsteps have already left their irretrievable prints,
they never let the passenger put up his feet.
We have to fly every single minute
like eagles, insects, and days,
we’ve got to conquer the god of time,
and put minute-hands in his eyes.
Shoes and roads are not enough,
the earth is useless to those in a hurry,
but roots have already crossed the night,
and you will shine in some other star,
becoming, in the end, the petals of a poppy.
And this word, this page
written by the thousand hands of my single hand,
does not die in you, is not for dreams,
it falls to the earth, and continues there.
It doesn’t matter if light or flattery
overflow and spill from the cup,
like a tenacious tremor of wine,
or if your mouth grew red with amaranth.
These last syllables don’t want more
than what comes and goes on the reef
of my memories, the furious foam,
they only want to write your name.
And though my dark love doesn’t say it,
later on it will be shouted by spring.
Other days will come, the silence
of planets and plants will be understood
and so many pure things will arise!
Violins will exhale an aroma of moon!
Bread may come to be your equal:
have your words, your essence of wheat,
and other things will speak with your voice:
the lost horses of autumn.
Even if it isn’t as it should be,
love will fill bulging barrels
like the ancient honey of shepherds,
and you, in the dust of my heart,
(which will be filled with endless markets)
will come and go among watermelons.
At the center of the earth I’ll split apart
emeralds in order to glimpse you,
and you’ll be there, looking like a sprout,
with a spray of ocean syllables.
What a world! What profound decoration!
What a ship sailing through sweetness!
And you perhaps, and I perhaps, topaz!
Today the bells ring as one.
Today there will be nothing but open air,
apples carried on the wind,
the succulent book in the bower,
and where the carnations breathe
we will found a new garment to outlast
the eternity of a conquering kiss.
The world was still new,
uncertain shapes and sounds,
you heard your name.
“Lizzy” could have been an apple,
or a butterfly, or a sunset in spring,
but its syllables
became a seed,
the sprout of your center.
Little by little
you grew comfortable
with the sound and the colors
in your name,
its wings sailed
from voice to voice,
the houses and streets and trees,
making its way
to the peak of a dream.
At the first competition
it seemed the chilly name of another.
It was not yet you,
its essence was untested,
so you went seeking,
searching in weary mirrors,
in questioning shadows,
until you found
its true voice singing
in the slow light of dedication.
It was then it lingered,
and stopped a Blurtso that passed,
thinking it was the echo of an apple,
or a butterfly, or spring.
What’s that you’ve been writing? said Alex. It’s a collection of poems, said Blurtso. A collection? said Alex. Yes, said Blurtso, for Lizzy. I’m calling it, Graham Cracker Crumbs. Why? said Alex. Because when I see her pass, said Blurtso, and then she’s gone, I feel as empty as an empty pie tin. Oh, said Alex, and the poems are the crumbs that remain? Yes, said Blurtso, the remnants of my lost rapture. Can I hear one? said Alex. Sure, said Blurtso, this is about the time I saw her limping across campus. I call it, “O my love limps so!”
“O my love limps so!
“The birds were sweetly chirping
and the grass was growing green,
as I waited on my bench
for the jenny of my dreams.
While the shadows slowly passed,
not a vision did I spy,
‘til suddenly across the grass,
a limping caught my eye.
My love is sorely stricken,
she’s suff’ring and distressed!
Her left rear hoof is lagging,
is lagging behind the rest!
Oh lovely injured unguis!
Oh tender cloven pes!
Of late so sweet enticing,
now dragging on the grass.
Oh ass! Oh hoof! Oh ankle
so twisted and exposed!
The pain that’s in your heel
pricks the loving heart that knows!
That’s very good, said Alex, but what’s an “unguis”? “Unguis,” said Blurtso, is the Latin word for hoof. What about “pes”? said Alex. “Pes” is the Latin word for foot. Oh, said Alex, I guess Latin’s not very poetic. No, said Blurtso, I guess not.