Odes and Beginnings

Odes and Beginnings

The taste of your mouth and the color of your skin–
skin, mouth, the fruit of those swift days,
tell me, were they always by your side?
through the years and journeys and moons and suns
and earth and weeping and rain and joy–
or is it only now, only
as water leaves your roots
bringing to the dry land
swellings it did not know,
or in the lips of the forgotten jug
the taste of earth rises in the water.

I don’t know, don’t tell me, you don’t know either.
Nobody knows these things.
But if I bring all my senses
close to the light of your skin
you fuse like the acid
smell of fruit
and the heat of the road,
the smell of corn being stripped,
the honeysuckle of pure afternoon,
the names of the dusty earth,
the infinite pefume of the country:
magnolia and brush, blood and flour,
the powdery moon of the village,
newborn bread:

oh all your flesh returns to my mouth,
you return to my heart, return to my body.
and I return with you
to the earth that I was,
you are the deep spring inside me.
Now I know how I was born.

~Pablo Neruda (version by Chris Jansen)

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