Summer Pumpkin Soup
Stumbling along the abyss

Keeping quiet

Black-eyed susans and bee balm
Now we will count to twelve 
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth, 
let's not speak in any language; 
let's stop for one second, 
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment 
without rush, without engines; 
we would all be together 
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea 
would not harm whales 
and the man gathering salt 
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars, 
wars with gas, wars with fire, 
victories with no survivors, 
would put on clean clothes 
and walk about with their brothers 
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused 
with total inactivity. 
Life is what it is about; 
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded 
about keeping our lives moving, 
and for once could do nothing, 
perhaps a huge silence 
might interrupt this sadness 
of never understanding ourselves 
and of threatening ourselves with death. 
Perhaps the earth can teach us 
as when everything seems dead 
and later proves to be alive.

Now I'll count up to twelve 
and you keep quiet and I will go.

- Pablo Neruda

{photo: black-eyed Susans and bee balm in Madison Wisconsin last summer}


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