Crepusculario

Book of Twilight

 

to watch you passing painlessly by
to emerge in the stanza—cleansed of all evil.
~Pablo Neruda “Love”

 

traffic snarls beyond runways
and I fly up in twilight
to dash along dots of stars
and skim a curving world

an unfamiliar sun
climbs through clouds
that swallow a flaming ball
a cumulus quilt that will not burn

rough coastal rocks burst from
this dark binding to shout fiat lux
and following soon a psalm
of mountains shot through with dawn

 

 

Las Piedras del Cielo

Stones from the Sky

 

To harden the earth
the rocks took charge:
instantly
they grew wings:
~Pablo Neruda “I”

 

Up and down this continent
are stones people claim
must be from the sky.

Where are they now
these crafters of stone?

Surely no one on earth
could have shaped them so well,

the perfection of Machu Picchu
bonded for centuries without mortar,

Nazca pebbles revealing vast humming
birds and monkeys only from the air,

or the great moai of Rapa Nui
standing guard with empty eyes.

Surely such mastery of
geometry and physics,

such flawless endurance and art
is beyond mere terrestrials.

Where are they now
these crafters of stone?

I must believe even these wonders
were made by mortals like me
stubborn as stone.

 

 

Geografía Infructuosa

Barren Geography

 

we are rolled into numbers
and soon fall off a list
into oblivion.
~Pablo Neruda “Numbered”

 

A single sentence
condemns this country:

Although the ocean’s surface obscures this fact,
most of Chile lies at the edge of a profound precipice.

The northern desert records no rainfall at all.

To the south is one of the wettest regions on earth.

The rest is mostly mountains and volcanoes, many alive,

a coastline of islands by the thousands expiring in ice fields.

Yet green manages to prevail: the scarlet bellflower still rings

out from the vines of Valparaiso, forests of monkey puzzle trees

flourish on the foothills of the Andes, grapes and peaches travel north.

Flora finds a way
even after the fall.

 

 

Residencia en la Tierra

Residence on Earth

 

Well then what is it made of—that spurt of doves
between night and time, like a damp ravine?
~Pablo Neruda “Dead Gallop”

 

Climbers are keen to conquer
the highest mountain named

Sentinel of Stone or White
Ravine in ancestral tongues

I will not even attempt Andean foothills
neither the peak at the parcella’s edge

nor Cerro Colorado like a mother
in a dusty apron behind her child

I will not unlock the white
gate that leads to the canal

or walk the road to El Noviciado
the trial that precedes all vows

I will not venture as far as the pasture
with horses or the cactus field

or walk among the grapes
neither table nor tintorera

I will not wander the pathway
through the eucalyptus forest

or take up residence on
this earth that is not my own

 

 

Las Piedras de Chile

The Stones of Chile

 

stiff from sun, from wind, from energy,
from mineral dream, from dark time
~Pablo Neruda “The Stones of Chile”

 

When I leave here they will ask if I have been

on a farm, a ranch, a pasture.

 

They will want to know if I have walked

upon the stones of Chile,

 

if I have gathered the dust of this distant

country on my sandals.

 

They fear the foreign stone in the shoe

parasites we carry unawares

 

But I will tell the whole truth and it is

this: I walked only on

 

irrigated grass and flag stones swept daily

by a woman who has lost

 

her own language and speaks only the

tongue of the conquerors.

 

Wanda Campbell

Wanda Campbell

Wanda Campbell was born and grew up in Andhra Pradesh, South India. She now teaches Creative Writing and Women’s Literature at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada in view of the highest tides in the world.   She has published a novel Hat Girl (Signature 2013) and four collections of poetry, Daedalus Had a Daughter (Signature 2011), Grace (Blue Grama 2009), Looking for Lucy (Leaf 2008), and Sky Fishing (Black Moss 1997), as well as the poetry chapbook Haw [thorn] (Gaspereau  2003).  Her fifth collection Kalamkari and Cordillera is forthcoming from Inanna Press in 2017

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