CELEBRATING DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

 

Pablo Neruda: I’m Tired of Being a Man…

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

“Walking Around”

It so happens I’m tired of being a man.
It so happens I enter clothes shops and theaters,
withered, impenetrable, like a swan made of felt
sailing the water of ashes and origins.

The smell of a hairdresser’s has me crying and wailing.
I only want release from being stone or wool.
I only want not to see gardens and businesses,
merchandise, spectacles, lifts.

It so happens I’m tired of my feet and toenails,
my hair and my shadow.
It so happens I’m tired of being a man.

Still it would be a pleasure
to scare a lawyer with a severed lily
or deal death to a nun with a poke in the ear.
It would be good
to go through the streets with an emerald knife
and shout out till I died of cold.

I don’t want to go on being just a root in the shadows,
vacillating, extended, shivering with dream,
down in the damp bowels of earth,
absorbing it, thinking it, eating it every day.

I don’t want to be so much misfortune,
I don’t want to go on as a root or a tomb,
a subterranean tunnel, just a cellar of death,
frozen, dying in pain.

This is why, Monday, the day, is burning like petrol,
when it sees me arrive with my prison features,
and it screeches going by like a scorched tire
and its footsteps tread hot with blood towards night.

And it drives me to certain street corners, certain damp houses,
towards hospitals where skeletons leap from the window,
to certain cobbler’s shops stinking of vinegar,
to alleyways awful as abysses.

There are sulphur-coloured birds and repulsive intestines,
hanging from doorways of houses I hate,
there are lost dentures in coffee pots
there are mirrors
that ought to have cried out from horror and shame,
there are umbrellas everywhere, poisons and navels.

I pass by calmly, with eyes and shoes,
with anger, oblivion,
pass by, cross through offices, orthopedic stores,
and yards where clothes hang down from wires:
underpants, towels and shirts weeping
slow guilty tears.

-Pablo Neruda

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