Ode To Broken Things

Things get broken
at home
like they were pushed
by an invisible, deliberate smasher.
It's not my hands
or yours
It wasn't the girls
with their hard fingernails
or the motion of the planet.
It wasn't anything or anybody
It wasn't the wind
It wasn't the orange-colored noontime
Or night over the earth
It wasn't even the nose or the elbow
Or the hips getting bigger
or the ankle
or the air.
The plate broke, the lamp fell
All the flower pots tumbled over
one by one. That pot
which overflowed with scarlet
in the middle of October,
it got tired from all the violets
and another empty one
rolled round and round and round
all through winter
until it was only the powder
of a flowerpot,
a broken memory, shining dust.

And that clock
whose sound
was
the voice of our lives,
the secret
thread of our weeks,
which released
one by one, so many hours
for honey and silence
for so many births and jobs,
that clock also
fell
and its delicate blue guts
vibrated
among the broken glass
its wide heart
unsprung.

Life goes on grinding up
glass, wearing out clothes
making fragments
breaking down
forms
and what lasts through time
is like an island on a ship in the sea,
perishable
surrounded by dangerous fragility
by merciless waters and threats.

Let's put all our treasures together
-- the clocks, plates, cups cracked by the cold --
into a sack and carry them
to the sea
and let our possessions sink
into one alarming breaker
that sounds like a river.
May whatever breaks
be reconstructed by the sea
with the long labor of its tides.
So many useless things
which nobody broke
but which got broken anyway

by Pablo Neruda

Comments (10)

I have almost drowned FIVE times.... This poem seems to forbode the actual DROWN.
He wonders how it all got started this business about seeing your life flash before your eyes while you drown? It all got started because it happens, Billy! Why can't this guy put on display the mysteries of the life he notices around himself rather than these hypotheticals he delights in.
I almost drowned once, and all I saw was that quick blur of curved silver! And the life-saving water ski belt that I never wore again. Too bad that I hadn't come across this poem at that time. I would've had it framed with the belt and sent it to this very funny guy!
I enjoy his voice. He can describe with the best, he can characterize also with the best, but what some best can't do is keep up with his wit.
Artfully done and full of humor. Collins is at his best here.
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