Sonata With Pines

What follows is my translation—a flawed translation—of part of a Pablo Neruda poem


We do the tired math of eggs
in the land between the lands.

We don’t remember their happiness,
we forget their dentures.

They sleep the sugared sleep
on extrapolated divans.

That they would know certain stones,
carrying light and secrets,
bearing a greenish hue.


What is the reason not to exist?
Where are we carrying ourselves to, otherwise?

A good change of clothes
and shoes and socks of work

introduce a little land
to give our love new kisses.

Drink up the clean air
from now until you rule.


When I went from broom to broom
guided only by my hat

I didn’t find anyone who knew the way.
They were all worried.

They were trying to sell things
no one had ever asked for

until it was clear
that we’d played out our sunrise.


And half the sky, the whole ramp
conformed to the song.

And spoke with all the people,
even those who were picketing.

We forgot how quickly
our teeth lost their enamel.

We forgot about our fevers,
our slew of minor ailments.

We had a newfound prowess
as we turned our mother’s earth.