a poem by Neruda speaks to my heart

collecting shells

S read this poem to me earlier this evening and it gave me a fluttery feeling. I don’t get to see the ocean much, so when I do it’s a special time. Most recently, the ocean means writing and creativity to me, because of Port Townsend, Washington, and my Goddard residencies. I get to go again in February. I’ll have these words in my head when I go. And it’s sort of a full-circle thing, too, because I bought this book for S from Copper Canyon Press. From Fort Worden to Vermont back to Fort Worden, with all kinds of poetic flutters and frills in between. From the Puget Sound to the shores of Lake Champlain back to the Puget Sound. Sand in my shoes. Gathering beach glass.

The photograph above is from Coney Island, NY, another place I’ve gazed over saltwater. I’ve never been there in the summer, only in cold weather. L and I gathered shells there.

Here’s the poem I’ve been talking about: From Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questions translated by William O’Daly

XLIX

When I see the sea once more

will the sea have seen or not seen me?

Why do the waves ask me

the same questions I ask them?

And why do they strike the rock

with so much wasted passion?

Don’t they get tired of repeating

their declaration to the sand?

Kali

conflagration

Book: May Sarton’s collection of poetry A Grain of Mustard Seed. I mentioned this poem, the Invocation to Kali, before, back when I first bought the book. Well, I liked it so much that I ended up writing a whole annotation on it. And my enthusiasm seems to have come through in the essay, because my advisor responded by saying that she didn’t think she liked May Sarton, but now she wanted to get a copy of this book and read it for herself.

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The California Poem (and The Vermont Poem?)

covered bridge

I’ve put this photo I took of a covered bridge here because I’m posting (after the jump) an annotation I wrote about Eleni Sikelianos’s book, The California Poem, and since I’ve never been to California, I did some thinking about what her book would be like translated into Vermont language. Vermont is my home state. And Vermont is very proud of its covered bridges.

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a litany. just so you know where I’m coming from.

sometimes I feel that I have no right to speak, having never been silenced

I have never been beaten with a shaft of metal.

I have never been raped.

I have never had my skin torn open with an explosion of rusted nails.

I have never been splattered by another person’s blood.

I have never pumped my blood into another’s hands.

I have never gone hungry.

I have never lost a toe, a foot, a nose to frostbite.

I have never watched my parents murdered in front of me.

I have never seen my children taken, screamed after them, held out my empty arms.

I have never been locked away, left to rot, confined to silence.

I have never been drowned or half-drowned.

I have never shot a man, a woman, a child.

I have never stood thirsty in a world made only of dust.

I have never turned to sniffing glue to numb the hunger pains.

I have never watched my house burn down.

I have never been burned to death inside my house.

I have never been turned away from my own land.

I have never been a prostitute just to make the rent payments.

I have never been denied education.

I have never been in a land at war.

I have never had the door of the hospital closed on my bleeding face.

I have never had a number tattooed into the delicate skin of my arm.

I have never lived in an apartment that smelled of nothing but urine.

I have never been gunned down for my beliefs.

I have never been decapitated.

I have never been gassed.

I have never had my body stacked, naked, with thousands of other dead.

I have never been a refugee turned away from safety at the border.

I have never been dragged to death down a sandpaper street.

I have never sat in a cement cell, waited for the electric chair, the lethal injection.

I have never been wrongly accused.

I have never been addicted to powder or needles or pills.

I have never been pushed to the ground and trampled in a crowd.

I have never leapt from a seventeenth story window.

I have never had my tongue cut from my mouth.

I have never been trapped deep underground in a collapsed coal mine.

I have never spat blood.

I have never sipped blood.

I have never sickened and wasted in the midst of an epidemic.

I have never stepped on a land mine.

I have never been touched where I didn’t want to be touched.

I have never been kidnapped.

I have never disappeared without a trace.

I have never been silenced.