02 October 2008

happy gandhi, birthday

The Guilty One (Pablo Neruda, from _The Hands of Day_)

I declare myself guilty of never having
fashioned, with these hands I was given,
a broom.

Why did I not make a broom?

Why was I given hands at all?

What purpose did they serve
if I saw only the rumor of the grain,
if I had ears only for the wind
and did not gather the thread
of the broom,
still green on the earth,
and did not lay the tender stalks out to dry
and was not able to unite them
in a golden bundle
or attach a wooden cane
to the yellow skirt
so I had a broom to sweep the paths.

So it was:
I do not know how
I lived m life
without learning, without seeing,
without gathering and uniting
those elements.

At this hour I cannot deny
I had the time,
but not the hands,
and so, how could I aspire
with my mind to greatness
and not be capable
of making
a broom,
not one,

* * *

That's for you Gandhi. And for the importance of sweeping away the old egos that pile up within us, of purifying within and without, of joining hands "to raise the lowliest" and adopt the work we fear most.

When I go back to Sequim in a couple of days, I will make a gift to accompany this poem. I will try to make a broom.

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