Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tonight I can write the saddest lines...

I never understood poetry. I was an English major in college, so it was inevitable that poetry crossed my path, but I was left confused when it moved on, unsure of what I had just encountered. One talented and passionate professor was successful at opening a door to Shakespeare's sonnets, but only in an academic sense. It wasn't until I met Linda that poetry wormed its way into my day-to-day life. When we started dating, she was into the soundtrack from Il Postino, a movie that imagines the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda taking a postman under his wing, helping the shy and simple man to woo the woman he loves through poetry. The first half of the soundtrack was a spoken word collection of Neruda’s poems, and listening to those poems while falling in love with Linda forever left the two intertwined. She especially loved one of the poems, and so I loved it, too. I memorized it over the course of a few weeks, saying it over and over to myself in the car or while falling asleep. I imagined reciting it to her at some point, but as our relationship moved from dating to moving in together, the time never seemed right. Really, it was because I never had the courage. I told myself that I would recite it to her at our wedding one day, but when that day approached, I found that the years in between had faded my memory of the lines and I didn’t take the time to learn them again. I regret it to this day, but now and then, a few of the lines pop into my head, or I’ll hear Neruda’s name mentioned or come across one of his poems, and I get a free ride back to those first immaculate days of falling in love, when you can’t keep that beautifully goofy smile off your face and the other person is all you can think about. Most of Neruda’s poems seem to come from that place, or from somewhere near it, and now, I can see Violet in those words, too. Not in the same way as I see Linda in the words – Neruda wasn’t thinking about babies - but the depth of feeling they explore is exactly where I am when Violet favors me with a smile. Last night’s poem was the first Neruda I came across since she was born, and to me, it was about her, and it also brought the rest back, too, everything I wrote here and even some of the poem that I once memorized to try and impress Linda.

The whole thing is below. Read it slow.

Tonight I Can Write
By Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, 'The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.
Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.

I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.
She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.

How could one not have loved her great still eyes.
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.
To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.

And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
What does it matter that my love could not keep her.

The night is starry and she is not with me.
This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.

My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.

My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.
The same night whitening the same trees.

We, of that time, are no longer the same.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.

My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.
Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.

Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.
I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms

my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.
Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer

and these the last verses that I write for her.

158 days old

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