by PABLO NERUDA
(Trans. from Spanish by Alastair Reid)
Among the things the sea throws up,
let us hunt for the most petrified,
violet claws of crabs,
little skulls of dead fish,
smooth syllables of wood,
small countries of mother-of-pearl;
let us look for what the sea undid
what it broke up and abandoned,
and left behind for us.
Petals crimped up,
cotton from the tidewash,
and sweet bones of birds
still in the poise of flight.
The sea washed up its tidewrack,
the air played with the sea-things;
when there was sun, it embraced them,
and time lives close to the sea,
counting and touching what exists.
I know all the algae,
the white eyes of the sand,
the tiny merchandise
of the tides in autumn,
and I walk with the plump pelican,
building its soaking nests,
sponges that worship the wind,
shelves of undersea shadow,
but nothing more moving
than the vestiges of shipwrecks—
the smooth abandoned beams
gnawed by the waves
and disdained by death.
Let us look for secret things
somewhere in the world,
on the blue shore of silence
or where the storm has passed,
rampaging like a train.
There the faint signs are left,
coins of time and water,
debris, celestial ash
and the irreplaceable rapture
of sharing in the labor
of solitude and the sand.
On the Blue Shore of Silence (Rayo, 2004)