N† a† p a† l† m†††† H† e† a† l† t† h†††† S† p† a† :†††† R† e† p† o† r† t†††† 2† 0† 0† 6
Making the hay mattress
The best part of all that was dancing:
In August, when she did the summer cleaning
She threw away the mattress and the pillows
Stripping the beds to ideas of beds on the empty floor,
Where, with hammer and nails she reinforced
The shapes of the wobbly wooden frames.
Then in a new white case we stuffed fresh hay;
After she sealed it tight, she summoned the children to dance
To make a hora on top, to even out the surface
And soften the flowers and grass.
Barefoot, we took dance lessons on the mattress case
Stomped our feet and clapped our hands and laughed.
So it came to be that until she died, each August there were
Days when we danced and nights when we slept on flowers.
Note to a suicide
Neruda saw happiness at the rim of a wineglass, love
In bullet-laced violins (but I am paraphrasing)
Oh, his women are still bread doubling up at breasts
To be loved by one who would never end up sliced on tracks!
in the winter-flooding, when the sea licks Venice
Pink marble steps, white chairs swimming in their chains
Outside the restaurant where a song burning in the chest
Of the piano makes you forget your feet soaked in the
And here in your
, the daffodils didnít care about you: Oxford
Volcanically they spilled over grass and crocuses,
Swans fight with the geese over their bit of the pond
Drawing a clock on the face of the water, past the vernal equinox
I am sorry you have become only the devastating noise of that day.
There is nothing between you and me other than the cross
Between your death and my continuing life: the tracks were washed
I gave my statement to the Police, I did my strangerís duty.
train station Padua
††††††††††††††††††† For my cousin Titi
Ten years on you pass by your own blood
As the trains halt to greetings and goodbyes,
Both of you away from your country,
Meeting in a place where the language
Is the one which neither of you speaks:
On this trip you sought a reunion.
First ten years of your life he raised you,
Fed you, scolded you, watched over you
With kind blue eyes, taught you how to know
The rhythm of the land, the right procession
For weddings and funerals, helped you
Get on the horse and instruct it to stop and go.
And here, in the Christmas chill at the station
You pass by each other twice with thumping hearts:
When he grabs your arm you arch:
Oh, God, how you have answered my prayer
To live on the side of forgetting, how his blue eyes
Flicker with pain in the chiselled strangerís face!
We visit Giottoís frescoes restored and unveiled
For the first time in twenty years: on one side
There is the life which leads to hell,
On the other is the life which leads to heaven
And above, Giotto blue with golden stars,
Above which the
sky opens grey silences Padua
Over the piazza and the narrow streets.
Above the pond the colour of mud, the sun
Spits bits of gold through ruptured clouds,
And here we are at the end of all words
After the bound blood released what was you
Spiriting it into gleanings.
You could have died inside of me when
I was daydreaming about building the first
Sandcastle together at the Sleeping Bear Dunes
(But now I think that was a bad omen for there also,
The legend says, the two young bears
Could not cross the water and died
Before the mother fell asleep on the shore
With her back to the sun, looking at two islands.)
Or maybe you stopped living when I thought
You were building yourself heart walls
As I was moving gingerly around the house
Smiling at how you brought all the words into me:
Cantare, iubirea, family, nastere
Now the house is orderly, the bruises in my arms
And hands are turning yellowish from blue,
We have come to the end of grief, children.
Whatever you see now is not this world
And I will never see your faces: in my one dream
You were beautiful.