A Glaucous Gull following: letters exchanged with Pablo Neruda
…y recogi las cartas que nadie lee y que ellas llevan por las orillas del mundo, hasta perderlas*
—Pablo Neruda, 1948,
from Carta a Miguel Otero Silva en Caracas
The Glaucous Gull following me in the Cariboo Mountains
dropped your letter in the rain. Pages scattered
and dark ink continued to stream a bright dissonance
over Cariboo Falls. Pablo, as I write, your messenger still drifts past
my new address—the small tent sitting on sandy soil, hiding
among wild roses—some Wrinkled Roses
quietly eluding your imagination for a moment.
A damp fire smolders under the improvised lean-to.
Spear Thistles twist around, look at me.
And with the wind, your former guards stand up again,
toast your funeral, and their unfinished work.
They laugh, remove sea-green coats,
and push icy boulders into the Cariboo River.
Pablo, their jokes rise over the storm’s residual thunder.
Their sad stories pile up, divert
the snow’s brilliant run-off through your library.
An obvious illusion on my part—still, I wait for it to grow cold,
to retreat. Already your messenger disappears, dipping its wings
into the bluish fog holding Ishpa Mountain.
Fortunately, as an artist of imagination, it leaves your simple sketch
hovering an airmail stamp—a feisty Ruby-throated Hummingbird
protecting a nest smaller than a child’s fist.
And Pablo, I continue believing visions are on our side.
I mail this letter along with the fresh sediment
and dark turmoil feeding the Pacific.
British Columbia, Canada
*Translation: and I have picked up the letters no one reads, letters they take along
to all the shores of the world until they lose them
translated by Robert Bly,
This poem was published in Poetry East, issue no. 23, Fall 1989