they have separated minerals and cereals

Some people find Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) over the top, but I have always been quite taken with his lovely lines…

“The Infinite One”

Do you see these hands?
They have measured
the earth, they have separated
minerals and cereals,
they have made peace and war,
they have demolished the distances
of all the seas and rivers,
and yet,
when they move over you,
little one,
grain of wheat, swallow,
they can not encompass you,
they are weary seeking
the twin doves
that rest or fly in your breast,
they travel the distances of your legs,
they coil in the light of your waist.
For me you are a treasure more laden
with immensity than the sea and its branches
and you are white and blue and spacious like
the earth at vintage time.
In that territory,
from your feet to your brow,
walking, walking, walking,
I shall spend my life.


perhaps a great silence would interrupt this sadness

Amidst the clamor and motion of our days, a beautiful plea for stillness from Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973).

“Keeping Quiet”

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

This one time upon the earth,
let’s not speak any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be a delicious moment,
without hurry, without locomotives,
all of us would be together
in a sudden uneasiness.

The fishermen in the cold sea
would do no harm to the whales
and the peasant gathering salt
would look at his torn hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars of gas, wars of fire,
victories without survivors,
would put on clean clothing
and would walk alongside their brothers
in the shade, without doing a thing.

What I want shouldn’t be confused
with final inactivity:
life alone is what matters,
I want nothing to do with death.

If we weren’t unanimous
about keeping our lives so much in motion,

if we could do nothing for once,
perhaps a great silence would
interrupt this sadness,
this never understanding ourselves
and threatening ourselves with death,
perhaps the earth is teaching us
when everything seems to be dead
and then everything is alive.

Now I will count to twelve
and you keep quiet and I’ll go.

La calle se llenó de tomates

Today I return to this digital scrapbook of mine. There’s so much to say but sleep beckons, so tonight, I offer an image from this morning’s farmer’s market: a lovely heart-shaped tomato that caught my eye and reminded me of a poem by Pablo Neruda, master of the ode.

The street filled with tomatoes midday

Sidenote:  After I took this picture, I watched a tiny, craggy woman, circa 80-90 years old, dancing in a beautiful, helter skelter zigag to the tunes of the morning’s live musician. No one else was dancing. I caught up to her later and told her how much I enjoyed her moves. We walked together for a moment, sharing our wish that people be less inhibited, that people just get up and groove. “Thank you for making me smile,” I told her before we parted ways. She looked up at me, grinned, and blew me a kiss.

Tomatoes and plucky old ladies. There are so many reasons to fall in love with this crazy world every day.

Ode to Tomatoes-Pablo Neruda

The street
filled with tomatoes
light is
its juice
through the streets.
In December,
the tomato
the kitchen,
it enters at lunchtime,
its ease
on countertops,
among glasses,
butter dishes,
blue saltcellars.
It sheds
its own light,
benign majesty.
Unfortunately, we must
murder it:
the knife
into living flesh,
a cool
populates the salads
of Chile,
happily, it is wed
to the clear onion,
and to celebrate the union
child of the olive,
onto its halved hemispheres,
its fragrance,
salt, its magnetism;
it is the wedding
of the day,
its flag,
bubble vigorously,
the aroma
of the roast
at the door,
it’s time!
come on!
and, on
the table, at the midpoint
of summer,
the tomato,
star of earth,
and fertile
its convolutions,
its canals,
its remarkable amplitude
and abundance,
no pit,
no husk,
no leaves or thorns,
the tomato offers
its gift
of fiery color
and cool completeness.