03 December 2010

Pablo Neruda

[from John Felstiner's Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu, Stanford, 1980]

Walking Around

It so happens I'm tired of being a man.
It so happens I walk into tailorshops and movies
all shriveled up, impervious, like a swan of felt
steering through waters of origin and ash.

The smell of barbershops makes me break out sobbing.
All I want is the quiet of stones or wool,
all I want is to see no stores or gardens,
or merchandise or eyeglasses or elevators.

It so happens I'm tired of my feet and fingernails
and my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I'm tired of being a man.

Still it would be delightful
to frighten a notary with a cut lily
or do in a nun with one smack of an ear.
It would be great
to go through the streets with a green knife
screaming until I died of cold.

I just can't go on as a root in the dark,
swaying, stretching, shivering with sleep,
downwards, in the soaking guts of the earth,
absorbing and musing, eating every day.

I don't want so much misery for me.
I can't go on being root and tomb,
isolated cellar, warehouse of frozen
stiffs, dying of grief.

That's why Monday flares up like gas
when it sees me coming with my jailhouse face,
and howls like a wounded wheel as it goes by,
and makes hot bloody tracks toward night.

And shoves me to certain corners, certain dank houses,
to hospitals with bones coming out the window,
to certain shoestores reeking of vinegar,
to streets as frightful as crevices.

There are sulfur-colored birds and hideous intestines
hanging from the doors of houses I hate,
there are false teeth forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that must have wept for shame and horror,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and poisons, and navels.

I'm walking around with calm, with eyes, with shoes,
with rage, with forgetfulness,
I walk along, I go past offices and orthopedic shops,
and backyards with clothing hung from a wire:
underpants, towels, and shirts that weep
slow dirty tears.

1 comment:

  1. bevjackson17:07

    This takes my breath away. One of those. He read my mind. But better than my mind.