• Penny Harter

[7.22/20] Thanks to Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer for this morning’s beautiful reading of Neruda’s poem

Thanks to Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer for this morning’s beautiful reading of Neruda’s poem “Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines”, translated by W. S. Merwin. One line from that poem gave rise to my poem for today:

In the Distance

In the distance someone is singing.

Pablo Neruda

Someone is always singing, especially at

night in farmlands when the drone of the day

mutes, or in sleeping suburban neighborhoods

when a barking dog breaks the silence.

The wind plays a part, stirring summer laden

branches to whisper together, or rain to clatter

against our windows, its song a sustained chant

against drought, promising even more green.

This morning along the border of the local park,

the mallows have opened their mouths to sing

pink, fuchsia and white, their dark eyes focused

on the sun, faces nodding in the light breeze.

And someone is singing the blues from the din

of cities—distant singers unknown even to one

another. We must also heed the dissonant songs

from those sleepless neon streets.

What space separates us from someone singing?

What expanse must we traverse to find the singer

hidden among forgotten reeds, the one who dares

to try to translate the eddies of rivers between us?

How far away are those who need our love, their

distant songs wanting answer, reaching out to us

at dusk and dawn, echoing our own loneliness—

faintly calling for our antiphonal response?

© 2020 Penny Harter

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