I am keeping the name of a woman
I barely knew locked up; it’s in a box,
and now and then I pick out the syllables
that are rusted and creak like rickety pianos:
soon those trees come out, and then the rain,
the jasmine, the long victorious braids
of a woman now without a body, lost,
drowned in time as in a slow lake:
there her eyes went out like coals.
Nevertheless, there is in dissolution
the sweet scent of death, buried arteries,
or simply a life among other lives.
It smells good to turn our face
only in the direction of purity:
to feel the pulse of the raining sky
of our diminished youth:
to twirl a ring in the emptiness,
to cry out to heaven.
I regret not having time for my lives,
even for the slightest thing, the souvenir left in a compartment
of a train, in a bedroom or at the brewery,
like an umbrella left there in the rain:
perhaps these are the imperceptible lips
that speak like the cadence of the sudden
sea, in a careless moment on the road.
For that reason, Irene or Rose, Mary or Leonore,
empty boxes, dry flowers pressed in a book,
they call out from their lonely corners
and we need to open them, to hear the one without a voice,
to see those things that do not exist.
Pablo Neruda, “Image”