The Snails of Neruda

On viewing the shell collection of Pablo Neruda

Within the wounds of the sea, 
the hardly negligible pain
in the breath of her infinite acceptance,
her secret joy persists
 in these little houses of snails, the least of her hidden
consignments where the highest
 skills of her pure delight parade
 solely to the eyes of fishes
 and the shape-shifting octopus.
And when the soft life within withers
or is sucked out for food 
as we all must someday feed the other
and what remains is only the poem
that life has inscribed on its house
the shell in its precise cacophony
 that the wordless symphony of the sea
deputizes to the shore where the poet 
in heartbroken love again as always
stoops to collect another talisman
to decode the tangle of his soul 
another spiraled and patterned affirmation
from those upheaving currents 
the hidden depths upon which 
his very life depends.



David Fetcho


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