Pablo Neruda ~ Ritual of My Legs

For a long time I have stayed looking at my long legs,
with infinite and curious tenderness, with my accustomed passion,
as if they had been the legs of a divine woman,
deeply sunk in the abyss of my thorax:
and, to tell the truth, when time, when time passes
over the earth, over the roof, over my impure head,
and it passes, time passes, and in my bed
I do not feel at night that a woman is breathing
sleeping naked and at my side,
then strange, dark things take the place of the absent one,
vicious, melancholy thoughts
sow heavy possibilities in my bedroom,
and so, then, I look at my legs as if they belonged to another body
and were stuck strongly and gently to my insides.

Like stems or feminine adorable things,
from the knees they rise, cylindrical and thick,
with a disturbed and compact material of existence:
like brutal, thick goddess arms,
like trees monstrously dressed as human beings,
like fatal, immense lips thirsty and tranquil,
they are, there, the best part of my body:
the entirely substantial part, without complicated content
of senses or tracheas or intestines or ganglia:
nothing but the pure, the sweet, and the thick part of my own life,
nothing but form and volume existing,
guarding life, nevertheless, in a complete way.

People cross through the world nowadays
scarcely remembering that they possess a body and life within it,
and there is fear, in the world there is fear of the words that designate the body,
and one talks favourably of clothes,
it is possible to speak of trousers, of suits,
and of women’s underwear (of “ladies'” stockings and garters)
as if the articles and the suits went completely empty through the streets
and a dark and obscene clothes closet occupied the world.

Suits have existence, color, form, design,
and a profound place in our myths, to much of a place,
there is too much furniture and there are too many rooms in the world
and my body lives downcast among and beneath so many things,
with an obsession of slavery and chains.

Well, my knees, like knots,
private, functional, evident,
separate neatly the halves of my legs:
and really two different worlds, two different sexes
are not so different as the two halves of my legs.

From the knee to the foot a hard form,
mineral, coldly useful, appears,
a creature of bone and persistence,
and the ankles are now nothing bu the naked purpose,
exactitude and necessity definitively exposed.

Without sensuality, short and hard, and masculine,
my legl exist, there, and endowed
wit muscular groups like complementary animals,
and there too a life, a solid, subtle, sharp life
endures without trembling, waiting and performing.

At my feet ticklish
and hard like the sun, and open like flowers,
and perpetual, magnificent soldiers
in the grey war of space
everything ends, life definitively ends at my feet,
what is foreign and hostile begins there:
the names of the world, the frontier and the remote,
the substantive and the adjectival too great for my heart
originate there with dense and cold constancy.

manufactured products, socks, shoes,
or simply infinite air,
there will be between my feet and the earth
stressing the isolated and solitary part of my being,
something tenaciously involved between my life and the earth,
something openly unconquerable and unfriendly.


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