Monday, November 16, 2015

Poem of the Week 11.16.15


Ode to a Large Tuna in the Market
by Pablo Neruda

Here,   
among the market vegetables,
this torpedo
from the ocean   
depths,   
a missile   
that swam,
now   
lying in front of me
dead.

Surrounded
by the earth's green froth   
—these lettuces,
bunches of carrots—
only you   
lived through
the sea's truth, survived
the unknown, the
unfathomable
darkness, the depths   
of the sea,
the great   
abyss,
le grand abîme,
only you:   
varnished
black-pitched   
witness
to that deepest night.

Only you:
dark bullet
barreled   
from the depths,
carrying   
only   
your   
one wound,
but resurgent,
always renewed,
locked into the current,
fins fletched
like wings
in the torrent,
in the coursing
of
the
underwater
dark,
like a grieving arrow,
sea-javelin, a nerveless   
oiled harpoon.

Dead
in front of me,
catafalqued king
of my own ocean;
once   
sappy as a sprung fir
in the green turmoil,
once seed
to sea-quake,
tidal wave, now
simply
dead remains;
in the whole market
yours   
was the only shape left
with purpose or direction
in this   
jumbled ruin
of nature;
you are   
a solitary man of war
among these frail vegetables,
your flanks and prow
black   
and slippery
as if you were still
a well-oiled ship of the wind,
the only
true
machine
of the sea: unflawed,
undefiled,   
navigating now
the waters of death.
Since I grew up and became aware of my surroundings, it has been harder and harder for me to hold the world in my hands and look at it in awe. I don't want to talk about Lebanon or Paris. I don't want to talk about how there are cruel people everywhere; in that country you didn't know existed, in your own country, in your own neighbourhood, in your own family. I don't want to talk about how they hide behind their bombs, or their money, or their phones. I don't want to talk about how selective the media is in portraying certain people while leaving others in the shadows. I don't want to talk about any of this. 
I already have. Useless tears have already fallen. Head has already been shaken. 
Rather, I am going to do what my friend Pablo Neruda does and I am going to admire things that I can actually hold in my hand. Things that might seem ordinary to the naked eye but that have the power to hold extraordinary beauty and make you sigh in awe because this thing that seemed so mundane, so normal, has a history, a dormant life just waiting to explode in your imagination. Rather, I am going to focus on the beauty I see because if not I am going to drown in the despair I feel when I see people suffering and I can do nothing about it. Rather, the next time I see my pillow, I am going to admire it for holding my head in my sleep and letting all my dreams fall in its plumage so that they won't get lost and for leaving me maps on my cheeks to help me find them again. 
I like how this poem looks like Chile, Neruda's home country. I like how this poem renders fantastic the sight of a dead fish. Because, after all, that's all it is -- a dead fish. But through Neruda's words, it is much more than that; it is a torpedo, a bullet, a king. The fish jumps alive. And that's exactly what I need right now, I need things to jump alive in my imagination. I need to find the extraordinary in the smallness of things. And maybe, just maybe, if I do this, the next time I hold the world in my hands I will be able to see that, yes, there is still a lot of cruelty, but at least there will be a whole lot more of fantastic in it.
-Alana

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