Photo Credit: magical_world
The Chilean Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda owned three homes in Chile–two outside Santiago and one in Barrio Bellavista in Santiago. His home in Bellavista is named after his third wife Mathilde: “La Chascona” which pays tribute to her unruly hair.
Neruda was one of the strongest influences during my graduate studies in poetry. His use of the sea, death, harvest, and light is potent. I always imagined that his home would be full of pretty odds and ends like the lyrical inspirations that poets often collect for their work. We are like scavengers, often with a penchant for eccentric collections outside of language.
It’s becoming Fall here! So strange to be writing about Fall foods like casseroles and chilly weather when so many of you are breaking out your skirts and t-shirts.
I went on another hike last weekend–this one on Cerro El Roble–The Oak Hill–and located in La Campana National Park about an hour and a half outside of Santiago on route five near Til Til. The forest was full of bright orange and deep red leaves.
This is the view from the top.
Photo Credit: Bracani….Antonio
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write for example, ‘The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
A portion of Pablo Neruda’s poem XX, Twenty Love Poems and a
Song of Despair
There are mosquitos the size of bats on the ceiling. I’ve been grading papers for 12 hours now. In the courtyard, the beagle still bays out every day. He’s been joined by a cat that sometimes yowls for hours. I am going to miss this courtyard, especially the mornings heavy with rain, the cool patter on the tiles outside.
I look out into the night and see the lit lives of families. Those that dine at 10 p.m. passing salad around the table. Our mysterious next door neighbors who come by once a week to use the apartment as a party base. The woman who sweeps her balcony as her bull terrier tries to bite the broom.
Do they see me? The room darkly lit by a small table lap. Me at the computer, with white pajama pants, navy slippers, and a glass of wine. This girl who sits at the computer every day and every night. They can see me perfectly, as I can see them.
Photo Credit: Zabara_Tango
This is the place.
And I am here, the mermaid whose dark hair
streams black, the merman in his armored body.
We circle silently
about the wreck
we dive into the hold.
I am she: I am he
An excerpt from the poem “Diving into the Wreck” by Adrienne Rich.
Around three years ago, I learned how to scuba dive. I’m not a natural, and I haven’t returned for a couple of years now. The hardest part about diving was the moment my face and mask went under the water; I had to resist the natural urge to buck against breathing underwater and surface.
It’s really a form of meditation to stay under water and reserve the air in the tank. I had to learn how to breath slowly and disassociate my fears from reality. I coaxed my brain into believing that breathing under water was natural. Slowly I pressed the air out of my jacket and descended with my gauge clutched in my left fist, in love with the ocean and deeply terrified all at once.
Leaves litter the sidewalks now–golden and curled. The scuttle of dried leaves even scared the tender greyhound I walked today. As I dashed through them, chasing after the lithe hound on my leash, the leaves brought to mind part of one of my favorite poems by Marvin Bell, “These Green Going to Yellow”–
I’m raising the emotional ante,
putting my face
in the leaves to be stepped on,
seeing myself among them, that is;
that is, likening
leaf-vein to artery, leaf to flesh,
the passage of a leaf in autumn
to the passage of autumn,
branch-tip and winter spaces
to possibilities, and possibility
Apartment porters repeat a ritual each day–washing the sidewalks in the morning and sweeping the leaves all afternoon. The smoke seems to have dissipated and the air is becoming fresh, fresco, one of my favorite words. The city is beginning to absorb me more each day. To me, there is no season as welcoming as fall.
Please indulge me in some non-Buenos Aires related news. One of my friends, an enormously talented and humble poet named Valzhyna, has a new book entitled Factory of Tears. Her second book of poetry was published by my all-time favorite press, the well respected Copper Canyon.
The press has published some of my writing “mentors” and deep imagist poets such as W.S. Merwin, Marvin Bell, and Pablo Neruda.
Valzhyna is from Belarus and writes in Belarusian. Her work is emphatic–her words are sparse, clipped, and click to the tongue. I firmly believe she is one of our generation’s best young writers and can’t wait to see what’s in store for her. The writer Franz Wright is translating her work.
Filed under Arts, Literature