as if I could not walk except with you

I don't really know where I am right now. Sick, sad, or just tired? Having a bad day that turns into two, and then a week, and finally so many that I can't recall the last one that was undeniably good? It seems self-indulgent to feel this sorry for myself. I know a lot of other people who have it a whole lot worse.

And yet, here I am. My head aches. I'm exhausted; there's been no uninterrupted sleep in weeks, at least. My left knee is not working quite properly. There are odd bruises across the backs of both hands. Blah blah blah.

I'm nearly done paying for my tonsillectomy, which was (as I'm sure y'all recall) in April. One payment left. So, as luck would have it, my water softener went bad. In a big way. As in, water all over the basement floor. Not only does that require a new water softener, but also a new basement floor. And possibly a couple of walls. And my car tabs are due. And my law license (grrrrrr!)

Work is still pretty much inexplicable. New and exciting versions of that, though, keeping me on my toes and waking me up in the middle of the night in fear that I've fucked up irredeemably. This job is, well, I don't know. Sometimes all right. Often very weird. Occasionally terrifying. I will never again accept a job without having some assurance that the boss doesn't plan to jump ship in less than a year.

And my romantic life is ... a disaster. There's nothing romantic about it, really, and it's not much of a life. And it's miserable and I hate that. Something and someone about whom I have such passion and warmth and drive should not feel like this. It doesn't, actually - not all the time.

Ugh. Too much feeling, not right words. This is why I don't write, now. Time to let the pro take over.

Do you remember when
in winter
we reached the island?
The sea raised toward us
a crown of cold.
On the walls the climbing vines
murmured letting
dark leaves fall
as we passed.
You too were a little leaf
that trembled on my chest.
Life's wind put you there.
At first I did not see you: I did not know
that you were walking with me,
until your roots
pierced my chest,
joined the threads of my blood,
spoke through my mouth,
flourished with me.
Thus was your inadvertent presence,
invisible leaf or branch,
and suddenly my heart
was filled with fruits and sounds.
You occupied the house
that darkly awaited you
and then you lit the lamps.
Do you remember, my love,
our first steps on the island?
The gray stones knew us,
the rain squalls,
the shouts of the wind in the shadow.
But the fire was
our only friend,
next to it we hugged
the sweet winter love
with four arms.
The fire saw our naked kiss grow
until it touched hidden stars,
and it saw grief be born and die
like a broken sword
against invincible love.
Do you remember,
oh sleeper in my shadow,
how sleep would grow
in you,
from your bare breast
open with its twin domes
toward the sea, toward the wind of the island,
and how I in your dream sailed
free, in the sea and in the wind
yet tied and sunken
in the blue volume of your sweetness?
Oh sweet, my sweet,
spring changed
the island's walls.
A flower appeared like a drop
of orange blood,
and then the colors discharged
all their pure weight.
The sea reconquered its transparency,
night in the sky
outlined its clusters
and now all things murmured
our name of love, stone by stone
they said our name and our kiss.
The island of stone and moss
echoed in the secret of its grottoes
like the song in your mouth,
and the flower that was born
between the crevices of the stone
with its secret syllable
spoke, as it passed, your name
of blazing plant
and the steep rock, raised
like the wall of the world,
knew my song, well beloved,
and all things spoke of
your love, my love, beloved,
because earth, time, sea, island,
life, tide,
the seed that half opens
its lips in the earth,
the devouring flower,
the movement of spring,
everything recognizes us.
Our love was born
outside the walls,
in the wind,
in the night,
in the earth,
and that's why the clay and the flower,
the mud and the roots
know your name,
and know that my mouth
joined yours
because we were sown together in the earth
and we alone did not know it
and that we grow together
and flower together
and therefore
when we pass,
your name is on the petals
of the rose that grows on the stone,
my name is in the grottoes.
They know it all,
we have no secrets,
we have grown together
but we did not know it.
The sea knows our love, the stones
of the rocky height
know that our kisses flowered
with infinite purity,
as in their crevices a scarlet
mouth dawns:
just as our love and the kiss
that joins your mouth and mine
in an eternal flower.
My love,
sweet spring,
flower and sea, surround us.
We did not change it
for our winter,
when the wind
began to decipher your name
that today at all hours it repeats,
the leaves did not know
that you were a leaf,
the roots
did not know that you were seeking me
in my breast.
Love, love,
offers us the sky,
but the dark earth
is our name,
our love belongs
to all time and the earth.
Loving each other, my arm
beneath your neck of sand,
we shall wait
as earth and time change
on the island,
as the leaves fall
from the silent climbing vines,
as autumn departs
through the broken window.
But we
are going to wait for
our friend,
our red-eyed friend,
the fire,
when the wind again
shakes the frontiers of the island
and does not know the names
of everyone,
will seek us, my love,
it will seek us, because we know it,
because we do not fear it,
because we have
with us
we have
earth with us
spring with us
and when a leaf
from the climbing vines,
you know, my love,
what name is written
on that leaf,
a name that is yours and mine,
our love name, a single
being, the arrow
that pierced winter,
the invincible love,
the fire of the days,
a leaf
that dropped upon my breast,
a leaf from the tree
of life
that made a nest and sang,
that put out roots,
that gave flowers and fruits.
And so you see, my love,
how I move
around the island,
around the world,
safe in the midst of spring,
crazy with light in the cold,
walking tranquil in the fire,
lifting your petal
weight in my arms
as if I had never walked
except with you, my heart,
as if I could not walk
except with you,
as if I could not sing
except when you sing.

[Pablo Neruda {1904-1973}, 'Epithalamium' from The Poetry of Pablo Neruda]

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