if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
No one, but no one–with the possible lyrical co-equal of Lin-Manuel Miranda–writes love like Pablo Neruda.
No preposition necessary: it’s not that he wrote “of” love. His words are indistinguishable from the emotion itself.
Both the flames and their lingering ash.
Sultry summer’s torrent and autumn’s cool unrolling.
The smooth, icy crystal moon and the log’s wrinkled body.
Every sense, every moment, carrying us forward and ceaselessly back, to and from those we love and have loved.
Hard butterscotch candies, wrapped tightly in red-gold cellophane twisted at both ends, carrying a hint of the scent of the soft saffron leather handbag from which my grandmother would fish out and present us with her signature treat. Grandma Jackie’s cheese triangles, fresh August tomatoes, tiny rosemary branches. Purple cauliflower on a boat at the equator. A final taste of lemon on a mint-green swab.
The sweet rose soap which we used to wash our hands in the same hospital room where we stayed with four newborn babies. Other hospitals, emergency rooms, stifling heat and hospital smells, bitterly bleached linen.
Voices I can still hear long after they fell silent. My father’s unique pauses, now echoed in my eldest, as he translated the unseen universe for us liberal arts types. My friend’s mother’s Dutch-accented English. The lost laughs of sons before their voices grew deep and, at least for a time, it seemed impossible to laugh. My own voice when it faltered. My husband’s voice, as it never did, still greeting calls to two of our children’s phones.
The things we carry often aren’t things at all.