So That You Will Hear Me

I give her Neruda with her milk. I read him aloud for both of us. Sometimes she stops sucking and listens. And I wonder what she hears. She is three months old. I know she does not understand all the words. But there is something. Something in the way they shape my voice. Stories under the words. My stories. The way he calls them forth with his incantations. Already she knows.

And I realize that much of what she will hear me say over our lives will not be words. It will be the story inside. The way it quickens my breath. Or clouds my eyes. That barely perceptible change in cadence. And she will hear something I did not mean to say. Some part of me that I would have hidden, laid bare. And perhaps it is better.

So That You Will Hear Me

So that you will hear me
my words
sometimes grow thin
as the tracks of the gulls on the beaches.

Necklace, drunken bell
for your hands smooth as grapes.

And I watch my words from a long way off.
They are more yours than mine.
They climb on my old suffering like ivy.

It climbs the same way on damp walls.
You are to blame for this cruel sport.
They are fleeing from my dark lair.
You fill everything, you fill everything.

Before you they peopled the solitude that you occupy,
and they are more used to my sadness than you are.

Now I want them to say what I want to say to you
to make you hear as I want you to hear me.

The wind of anguish still hauls on them as usual.
Sometimes hurricanes of dreams still knock them over.
You listen to other voices in my painful voice.

Lament of old mouths, blood of old supplications.
Love me, companion. Don’t forsake me. Follow me.
Follow me, companion, on this wave of anguish.

But my words become stained with your love.
You occupy everything, you occupy everything.

I am making them into an endless necklace
for your white hands, smooth as grapes.

~Pablo Neruda