Today didn’t start as I planned it. I had tons of work to do and when I sat down at my desk, I felt myself getting shorter and shorter. Turns out my desk chair is broken. My fat ass has been too much for the poor thing and it’s hydraulics have given out. This of course sent me into a funk (I can get away with saying that as it is my middle name) as I have back and neck “issues” and need to be in a chair that is the correct height for my computer set up. Wrong height leads to sore neck, headaches – and a crappy mood. I found myself dissolving in said mood, thinking about how much productive time I’m losing, blah-de-blah-de-blah.
You see, I’m like editing the last 5,000 words of my boo, it’s the climax, the denoument, the great ending I’d been scheming up for months, and I just want to get it done, done, done. It’s time like these when I need to bring the “alchemy”, bring the “magic” to transform these useless thoughts into something — else. That’s when I turn to my bookcase and seek out people who are smarter than me. I have a collection of books and scraps of quotes and all sorts of things, and I stuck my hand in a notebook, and this is what came out, it is one of my favorite poems by Pablo Neruda. There are several translations of this poem floating around, I can’t recall which translation it is, but is is by far my favorite:
The Enigmas by Pablo Neruda
you would know what the crab in its claw-hold of gold weaves,
And I answer: Ocean will say it
You ask what the luminous bell of the tunicate awaits in the water.
What does it hope for?
I tell you, it waits for the fullness of time, like yourself.
For whom does the alga Macrocystis extend its embraces?
Unriddle it, riddle it out, at a time, in a sea that I know.
And the narwhal’s malevolent ivory? Thou you turn for my answer,
I tell you you stay for a stranger reply: how he suffered the killing harpoon.
Or you look, it may be, for the kingfisher’s plumage, a pulsation of purest
beginning in the tropical water.
Now, on the lucid device of the polyp you tangle a new importunity,
Flailing it fine to the bran; you sift the electrical matter that moves on
the tines of the void; the stalactites splintering armor that lengthens its
crystal; the barb of the angler fish, the singing extension that weaves in the
depths and is loosed on the waters?
I would answer you: Ocean will say it — the arc of its life-time
is vast as the sea-sand, flawless and numberless.
Between cluster and cluster, the blood and the vintage, time brightens the
flint in the petal, the beam in the jellyfish; the branches are threshed in the
skein of the coral from the infinite pearl of the horn.
I am that net waiting emptily — out of range of the onlookers, slain in the
Fingers inured to a triangle, a timid
Half-circle’s dimensions computed in oranges.
Probing a starry infinitude,
I came, like yourselves,
Through the mesh of my being, in teh night, and awoke to my nakedness —
All that was left of the catch — a fish in the noose of the wind.
For those of you who are old enough, or who are movie buffs, I first encountered a version of this poem in a 1990 film titled, “Mindwalk.” It is a film featuring three characters, a politician, a physicist, and a poet. John Heard played the part of the poet and he recites a different version of the poem at the end of the movie. Here’s a short clip from the film.
I hope you found this useful, for me it helps to read poetry every now and then, just to get me out of my regular vocabulary rut. I mean how many times in a day do you use words like, “luminous,” “tunicate,” and “malevolent”? But maybe you do, I’d love to hear from you and I’d love to hear what kind of poetry or other reading to you turn to when your mood turns… funky.