Audio poetry WRITING

Father by Pablo Neruda

Father by Pablo Neruda


The brusque father comes back
from his trains:
we could pick out
his train whistle
cutting the rain
a locomotive’s
nocturnal lament
an unplaceable howl
in the dark.
Later,
the started trembling.
Wind entered
in gusts with my father;
and between the two advents, footfalls and tensions,
the house staggered,
a panic of doorways
exploded with a dry
sound of pistols,
stairs groaned
and a shrill voice
nagged hatefully on
in the turbulent
dark. Rain
flooded the roof tops,
the world drowned
by degrees, there
was only the wind’s sound
trading blows with the rain.

Still, he was punctual.
Commanding his train in the freeze of the morning.
the sun barely
aloft in the sky, he was there with his beard
and his green and red
signal flags, lanterns ready,
the engine-coal blazing like hellfire.
the Station House showing coach after coach through the fog—
to settle his debt with geography

Railroader, land-sailor
touching ports with no seacoasts
—whistle stops in the woods–the train races on
brakeless as nature
in its terrestrial voyage.
Not till it rests all
its length of the rails and friends greet
and come in, do the doors of my infancy open:
the table is shaken again
by a railroader’s fist
knocking thick glass together, a brotherhood
glowing,
flashing sparks
from the eyes in the wine.

Poor, durable father,
there in the axle of life
virile in friendships, your cup overflowing:
the whole of your life was a headlong militia;
between daybreaks and roadbeds,
comings and goings, you l ived on the double.
Then, on the rainiest day of them all,
the conductor, Jose del Carmen Reyes,
boarded his death train and has not come back to us since.


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