old ladies by the sea :: pablo neruda
The old women come to the serious sea
with their withering shawls
and their fragile feet broken.
Alone on the beaches, they sit
without shifting their gaze or their hands
or the clouds or the quietness.
The ocean’s obscenity shatters and slashes,
descends in a mountain of trumpets,
shakes a bullock’s mustaches.
The matriarchs sit in their places, unmoved,
transparent like ships on a sea,
observing the terrorist waves.
Where do they come from, where go to?
They move out of corners,
from the quick of our lives.
The ocean is theirs, now,
the vacancy, freezing and burning,
the solitude crowded with bonfires.
They move in the fullness of time
from the once-fragrant houses
and the char of the twilight.
They see and do not see the waters,
they write signs with their walking sticks,
and the sea blots their signatures.
Then the ancients move off
on frail bird’s feet, upraised,
while a runaway surf
travels naked in wind.