Keith Johnson

Silver Star - 3,853 Points (9th June 1944 / Cheshire, England)

Isla Negra - Poem by Keith Johnson

Little by little
The arguments killed caring:
The sound became unendurable
Of the endless after silences
That demanded resolution.

Doubtless slowly
You have erased me:
Hardly a memory is left now
But in writing about Pablo Neruda
The past is whispering a say.

When we visited Isla Negra:
There was no crystal moon
Only a dull, cold and windy day
And a nondescript concrete bridge
Across the Cordoba Creek estuary -

A piped water main upstream
Its distant companion on stanchions
And dirty pools waiting to be cleansed
By the tides from the black rocks or
Floods and surges from the stream.

Then as now, the mud was stained
With the ordure of ordinariness:
El sucio y maloliente estero Córdoba
(ubicado cerca de la playa Las Ágatas,
en la localidad de Isla Negra) .

But when Neruda first came there
Into the solitudes of that strand
He came by horse, with his friend Don Eladio,
Wading the pristine stream intoxicated
By winter sprays of pollen, salt and wrack.

‘Era a media tarde,
llegamos a caballo por aquellas soledades
Por primera vez sentí como
una punzada este olor a invierno marino,
mezcla de boldo y arena salada, algas y cardos...'

Now I recall the vines clearing on the trail
As the horses scented fresh water upstream
And we gave them their heads,
Standing back on the stirrups,
Letting them seek the beach between the rocks.

We should not have let love
Grow implacable and bitter like we did
Crossed so separately and stained.
Once there was another land, another shore
Where I am now resolved we are together.

Topic(s) of this poem: love, love and life, love and loss, pablo neruda

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 14, 2016

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