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There is no Forgetting

If you should ask me where I have been
I have to say, Life goes on.
I have to speak of the dirt
that obscures the stones and the river
that endures and is destroyed:
I know nothing except the things the birds have forsaken,
the abandoned sea, or my weeping sister.
Why so many different regions?
Why is one day joined to another?
Why does the mouth gather black night?
What of the dead?
If you should ask me where I came from,
I have to talk with things I forced away,
with utensils much too bitter,
with huge, sometimes-rotting beasts
and with my grieving heart.
There are no memories that have crossed over
nor has the yellow pigeon that sleeps in forgetting;
only tear-stained faces,
fingers at throats,
and what has collapsed from the leaves:
the obscurity of a day transpired,
a day which has fed on our blood grief.
Here are violets, swallows,
all that pleases us and appears in the sweet cards
of the long passing lines of our time and our pleasure.
But we cannot grasp beyond these teeth,
nor nibble at the rinds the silence gathers,
because I have no answers:
there are so many dead,
and so many dikes that the red sun breaches
and so many heads that strike doorjambs,
and so many hands that encircle kisses,
and so many things that I long to forget.
~Pablo Neruda~


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