we would all be together in a sudden strangeness

With all the closures all over the world, in efforts to contain the spread of Covid 19, frightening things are happening.  Surprising things, too.  I just heard that the previously filthy canals in Venice and sparkling with clear water.

venice canal clear

Here’s a poem by Pablo Neruda:

Keeping Quiet — by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.
.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
.
(Translation by Alistair Reed)

 

venice

 

 

Published by ahiggins2013

poet, birder, senior citizen, cancer survivor, Catholic sister. Eight books of poetry published: At the Year’s Elbow, Mellen Poetry Press 2000; Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky, Plain View Press 2007; chapbooks: Pick It Up and Read, Finishing Line Press 2008, How the Hand Behaves, Finishing Line Press 2009, Digging for God, Wipf and Stock 2010, Vexed Questions, Aldrich Press 2013, Reconnaissance, Texture Press 2014, and Life List, Finishing Line Press, 2015.

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