Why, with these red fires, are the rubies ready to burst into flame?
Why is the heart of the topaz
yellow with honeycombs?
Why is it the rose's vagary
to change the color of its dreams?
Why did the emerald freeze
like a drowned submarine?
And why does the sky pale
in the starlight of June?
Where does the lizard buy
fresh paint for its tail?
Where is the subterranean fire
that revives the carnations?
Where does the salt get
that look of transparency?
Where did the coal sleep
before it woke to its darkness?
And where, where does the tiger buy
the stripes of its mourning, its markings of gold?
When did the honeysuckle first
sense its own perfume?
When did the pine take account
of its fragrant conclusion?
When did the lemons learn
the same creed as the sun?
When did smoke learn how to fly?
When do the roots talk with each other?
How do stars get their water?
Why is the scorpion venomous
and the elephant benign?
What are the tortoise's thoughts?
To which point do the shadows withdraw?
What is the song of the rain's repetitions?
Where do birds go to die?
And why are leaves green?
What we know comes to so little,
what we presume is so much,
what we learn, so laborious,
we can only ask questions and die.
Better save all our pride
for the city of the dead
and the day of the carrion:
there, when the wind shifts
through the hollows of your skull
it will show you all manner of
enigmatical things, whispering truths in the
void where your ears used to be.
~~Flies Enter a Closed Mouth, by Pablo Neruda
(Originally posted to Multiply August 15, 2008)