Neruda’s Memoirs, excerpt
Neruda said the closest thing to poetry
is a loaf of bread
or a ceramic dish
or a piece of wood lovingly carved
So he poured his words
into the glass of another language
only some of the world speaks
He gave light to the mines of Coquimbo.
Now they glitter like dew on a silver fish.
He left the smell of fresh ink and crisp paper
at the broker’s, who traded his wife’s voice
for a rainbow of lightning.
He melted the snow on broad-sided mountains
to water the dust on Santiago’s tongue.
He found the blue of Chile’s sky
in the bellies of volcanoes, its silence
in a guitar in Spain.
Neruda’s the rush of roots
after a sudden breath
the warm tear on a face in love
the sound of adolescence missing a beat.
The sea could rise above him;
the wind make a sail of him.
He was too young
for the blackness of his dress,
the year climbing to its close.
But when asked,
the poet shaped in the man
remembers a ride on an empty road
and the color of rain in his childhood
and the look of a long-necked swan
that would not sing when it died
heavy in his arms one undone afternoon.
—Maureen E. Doallas, from Neruda’s Memoirs
T.S. Poetry Press, 2011