An Ode to Things

My friend L. and I have developed a tradition of sorts where when one of us leaves the country for an extended period of time, we get each other a little gift that says, “You’re awesome. Safe travels.” This time, when she left for Europe, I got her a sketch pad, she got me a book of poetry called Odes to Common Things by Pablo Neruda. The night before starting a new job, I decided I needed a bit of poetry to help clear my mind. A book on things – how apropos!!

Neruda’s Ode to Things

I have a crazy,

crazy love of things.

I like pliers,

and scissors.

I love

cups,

rings,

and bowls –

not to speak, or course,

of hats.

I love

all things,

not just

the grandest,

also

the

infinite-

ly

small –

thimbles,

spurs,

plates,

and flower vases.

***

Oh yes,

the planet

is sublime!

It’s full of pipes

weaving

hand-held

through tobacco smoke,

and keys

and salt shakers –

everything,

I mean,

that is made

by the hand of man, every little thing:

shapely shoes,

and fabric,

and each new

bloodless birth

of gold,

eyeglasses

carpenter’s nails,

brushes,

clocks, compasses,

coins, and the so-soft

softness of chairs.

***

Mankind has

built

oh so many

perfect

things!

Built them of wool

and of wood,

of glass and

of rope:

remarkable

tables,

ships, and stairways.

I love

all

things,

not because they are

passionate

or sweet-smelling

but because,

I don’t know,

because

this ocean is yours,

and mine;

these buttons

and wheels

and little

forgotten

treasures,

fans upon

whose feathers

love has scattered

its blossoms,

glasses, knives and

scissors –

all bear

the trace

of someone’s fingers

on their handle or surface,

the trace of a distant hand

lost

in the depths of forgetfulness.

***

I pause in houses,

streets and

elevators

touching things,

identifying objects

that I secretly covet;

this one because it rings,

that one because

it’s as soft

as the softness of a woman’s hip,

that one there for its deep-sea color,

and that one for its velvet feel.

***

O irrevocable

river

of things:

no one can say

that I loved

only

fish,

or the plants of the jungle and the field,

that I loved

only

those things that leap and climb, desire, and survive.

It’s not true:

many things conspired

to tell me the whole story.

Not only did they touch me,

or my hand touched them:

they were

so close

that they were a part

of my being,

they were so alive with me

that they lived half my life

and will die half my death.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s