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from the October 2013 issue

Ode to Ángel Cruchaga

Ángel, I remember
in my childhood,
southern and shaken
by rain and wind,
your wings,
the flight
of your sparkling poetry,
the starry
filling the night, the roads,
with phosphoric resplendence,
you were
a pulsating river
full of fish,
you were
the silvery tail
of a green mermaid
crossing the sky
from west
to east,
the shape of light
in your wings, and the wind
allowing rain and black leaves to fall 
on your clothes.
So it was
far away,
in my childhood,
but your poetry
not only
a step made of many wings,
not only
wandering stone,
dressed in colors of amaranth and white lily,
was and still is,
but a flowering plant,
to human tenderness,
orange blossom
with roots
in man.
That’s why,
I sing to you,
I have sang to you
the way I sang to all pure things,
Everything becomes a lesson to live,
through hardship and sweetness,
as in your poetry, the infinite
bread pregnant with the tears
of your passion, the noble
fragrant woods
your divine hands shape.
you, owner
of the widest jasmine trees,
allow your younger
brother to leave on your chest
these branches with rain
and roots.
I leave them in your book
so it becomes pregnant
with peace, transparency, and beauty,
living in the corolla
of your adamantine nature.  

Excerpted from All the Odes: A Bilingual Edition by Pablo Neruda, edited by Ilan Stavans, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. © 2013 by Pablo Neruda and Fundación Pablo Neruda. Introduction © 2013 by Ilan Stavans. All rights reserved.

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