Ode To Bird Watching

by Pablo Neruda

translated by Jodey Bateman

 
Now
Let's look for birds!
The tall iron branches
in the forest,
The dense
fertility on the ground.
The world
is wet.
A dewdrop or raindrop
shines,
a diminutive star
among the leaves.
The morning time
mother earth
is cool.
The air
is like a river
which shakes
the silence.
It smells of rosemary,
of space
and roots.
Overhead,
a crazy song.
It's a bird.
How
out of its throat
smaller than a finger
can there fall the waters
of its song?
Luminous ease!
Invisible
power
torrent
of music
in the leaves.
Sacred conversations!
Clean and fresh washed
is this
day resounding
like a green dulcimer.
I bury
my shoes
in the mud,
jump over rivulets.
A thorn
bites me and a gust
of air like a crystal
wave
splits up inside my chest.
Where
are the birds?
Maybe it was
that
rustling in the foliage
or that fleeting pellet
of brown velvet
or that displaced
perfume? That
leaf that let loose cinnamon smell
- was that a bird? That dust
from an irritated magnolia
or that fruit
which fell with a thump -
was that a flight?
Oh, invisible little
critters
birds of the devil
with their ringing
with their useless feathers.
I only want
to caress them,
to see them resplendent.
I don't want
to see under glass
the embalmed lightning.
I want to see them living.
I want to touch their gloves
of real hide,
which they never forget in
the branches
and to converse with
them
sitting on my shoulders
although they may leave
me like certain statues
undeservedly whitewashed.
Impossible.
You can't touch them.
You can hear them
like a heavenly
rustle or movement.
They converse
with precision.
They repeat
their observations.
They brag
of how much they do.
They comment
on everything that exists.
They learn
certain sciences
like hydrography.
and by a sure science
they know
where there are harvests
of grain.


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