I hoped to spend this month reflecting on last year’s October and the friends who helped me through it. There hasn’t been much time to write though – last week my realtor and I decided the best thing I could do to sell my house was gather up all the animals – dogs, cat and pack rat (me) – and move out.
Easier said than done. When the realtor suggested I just throw things in boxes and have movers stick them in storage so painters, fixers and appraisers could come in and get their work done, it sounded like a good plan. Sounded good until I started trying to pack up twenty years of memories.
I shouldn’t be leafing through books before I toss them in the keep, give away or trash piles. But if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have found the photos from a vacation to New Mexico stuck inside a travel guide to Tahiti purchased for a vacation taken ten years later – a book that was headed for the give away pile. I also wouldn’t have found the following Pablo Neruda poem from a Penguin edition of Neruda’s work, titled Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair.
A Song of Despair. That’s one way to describe the gentle sobs that rock my chest when I contemplate taking the bulletin board down from the wall in Lena’s room. But A Song of Despair is not the poem that resonates with me today. Today, on October the eleventh, two thousand and eleven, as I sort through what remains of once upon a time, I Remember You As You Were is the Neruda poem that communicates how I feel.
I Remember You As You Were
by Pablo Neruda, translation by W.W. Merwin
I remember you as you were in the last autumn.
You were the grey beret and the still heart.
In your eyes the flames of the twilight fought on.
And the leaves fell in the water of your soul.
Sky from a ship. Field from the hills:
You memory is made of light, of smoke, of a still pond!
Beyond your eyes, farther on, the evenings were blazing.
Dry autumn leaves revolved in your soul.
Note: Of the four stanzas, I only include the first and last. The second and third stanzas express the intimate, passionate longing for an absent lover.
Twenty Love Songs and A Poem of Despair, Penguin Group