Walk About by Pablo Neruda

3 May
Neruda Young

Poet Pablo Neruda

It just so happens I get sick of being a man.
It happens when I enter a tailor shop and a cinema,
Withered, impenetrable like a swan of felt who
Navigates through headwaters and cinders.
The odor of barbershops makes me scream.
I just want a break from stones or wool,
I just do not want to see office parks or gardens,
No retail products, no bifocals, no elevators.
It so happens that I get sick of my feet and my nails
And my hair and my shadow.
It happens that I get tired of being a man.
However it would be sweet
To frighten a paralegal with a cut lily
Or kill a nun with a blow to the ear.
It would be cool
To run wild through the streets with a green knife
Screaming until I die of hypothermia.
I do not want to keep on keeping on like a root in darkness,
Hesitant, extended, shivering in my sleep,
Going down, buried in wet entrails of soil,
Absorbing and thinking, just eating every day.
I do not want so much misery.
I do not want to keep on keeping on from root to tomb,
Underground, cellar of the dead
Terrorized and dying of grief.
That’s why Monday flashes like a gas fire
When he sees me coming with my thug-face on
Monday peels out like a wounded wheel,
Making hot bloody tracks into the night
And shoves me into certain corners, into certain humid houses,
Into hospitals where bones break through the windows,
To certain major shoe chainstores that stink of vinegar,
To streets that haunt me like chasms.
There are sulphurous birds the color of gruesome intestines
Hanging from the doors of houses I hate,
There are forgotten dentures in a coffeepot,
There are mirrors that should have wept with shame, terror,
There are umbrellas everywhere, and poisons, and belly buttons.
I walk with calm, with eyes, with shoes,
With fury, with forgetfulness,
Walk, and I cross offices and orthopedic outlet stores,
And patios where laundry hangs on a wire:
Underwear, towels, and shirts weep
Slow obscene tears.

~translated by Barth Anderson

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