for Colin

 Walking Around

I happen to be tired of being a man.
I happen to enter tailorshops and moviehouses
withered, impenetrable, like a felt swan
navigating in a water of sources and ashes.

The smell of barbershops makes me wail.
I want only a respite of stones or wool,
I want only not to see establishments or gardens,
or merchandise, or eyeglasses, or elevators.

I happen to be tired of my feet and my nails
and my hair and my shadow.
I happen to be tired of being a man.

Nevertheless it would be delightful
to startle a notary with a cut lily
or slay a nun by striking her on the ear.
It would be lovely
to go through the streets with a sexy knife
and shouting until I froze to death.

I don't want to go on being a root in the dark,
vacillating, stretched out, shivering with sleep,
downward, in the soaked guts of the earth,
absorbing and thinking, eating each day.

I do not want for myself so many misfortunes.
I do not want to continue as root and tomb,
subterranean only, a vault with corpses,
stiff with cold, dying of distress.

That is why Monday day burns like petroleum
when it sees me coming with my prison face,
and it howls in its transit like a wounded wheel,
and it takes hot-blooded steps toward the night.

And it pushes me into certain corners, into certain moist houses,
into hospitals where the bones stick out the windows,
into certain shoestores with a smell of vinegar,
into streets as frightening as chasms.

There are brimstone-colored birds and horrible intestines
hanging from the doors of the houses that I hate,
there are dentures left forgotten in a coffeepot,
there are mirrors
that ought to have wept from shame and fright,
there are umbrellas everywhere, and poisons, and navels.

I walk around with calm, with eyes, with shoes,
with fury, with forgetfulness,
I pass, I cross by offices and orthopedic shoestores,
and courtyards where clothes are hanging from a wire:
underdrawers, towels and shirts that weep
slow, dirty tears.

- Pablo Neruda (trans. Donald D. Walsh)

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