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Check out our February feature of folktales from the Qatari oral tradition.
from the October 2013 issue

Ode to the Flowers of Datitla

Under the pines, the earth concocts
small unsullied things:
slim grasses
from whose threads
minuscule lanterns hang,
mysterious capsules
plump with lost air,
and shadows
are different there,
and flowery,
long green needles scattered
by the wind attacking and disheveling
the hair of pine trees.
On the sand
fragmentary petals,
calcified bark,
blue pieces 
of dead wood,
leaves the patience
of beetle-like woodcutters
moves around, thousands
of minimal cups
left behind by the eucalyptus
cold and fragrant
and herbs
like flannels 
with the softness
of gloves,
of proud spines,
wiry pavilions 
of dark acacia
and flowers the color of wine,
bulrush, heads of corn,
harsh stems united like
locks on the sand,
of somber green
cut with scissors, 
and amidst the tall yellowness
while shooting skyward
a rustic circumference of gold,
the tiger-flower flourishes
with three tongues
of ultraviolet love.

Datitla sand
united to the open statuary
of La Paz, in the first
waves of the gray Atlantic,
deliver beloved solitude,
you not only return me
to the penetrating
smell and movement
of sea pine,
not only
to the honey of love and its deliciousness,
but to the purest circumstances
on earth:
to the dray and wild
Flora of the Sea, Air,
and Silence.

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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