Dear Diary: Students slip me a little something under the table

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Yesterday I received a holiday gifts from students. I was humbled.

Señor Calvo was gracious enough to read the following Pablo Neruda poem in class:

El pie desde su niño

by Pablo Neruda

El pie del niño aún no sabe que es pie,
y quiere ser mariposa o manzana.

Pero luego los vidrios y las piedras,
las calles, las escaleras,
y los caminos de la tierra dura
van enseñando al pie que no puede volar,
que no puede ser fruto redondo en una rama.
El pie del niño entonces
fue derrotado, cayó en la batalla,
fue prisionero, condenado a vivir en un zapato.
Poco a poco sin luz fue conociendo el mundo
a su manera,
sin conocer el otro pie, encerrado,
explorando la vida como un ciego.
Aquellas suaves uñas de cuarzo, de racimo,
se endurecieron, se mudaron
en opaca sustancia, en cuerno duro,
y los pequeños pétalos del niño
se aplastaron, se desequilibraron,
tomaron formas de reptil sin ojos,
cabezas triangulares de gusano.
Y luego encallecieron, se cubrieron
con mínimos volcanes de la muerte,
inaceptables endurecimientos.

Pero este ciego anduvo sin tregua, sin parar
hora tras hora, el pie y el otro pie,
ahora de hombre o de mujer,
arriba, abajo, por los campos, las minas,
los almacenes y los ministerios,
atrás, afuera, adentro, adelante,
este pie trabajó con su zapato,
apenas tuvo tiempo de estar desnudo
en el amor o el sueño, caminó,
caminaron hasta que el hombre entero se detuvo.
Y entonces a la tierra bajó y no supo nada,
porque allí todo y todo estaba oscuro,
no supo que había dejado de ser pie,
si lo enterraban para que volara
o para que pudiera ser manzana.

Mossy feet

To the Foot from its Child

by Pablo Neruda; translated by Alastair Reid

The child’s foot is not yet aware it’s a foot,
and would like to be a butterfly or an apple.

But in time, stones and bits of glass,
streets, ladders,
and the paths in the rough earth
go on teaching the foot that it cannot fly,
cannot be a fruit bulging on the branch.
Then, the child’s foot
is defeated, falls
in the battle,
is a prisoner
condemned to live in a shoe.

Bit by bit, in that dark,
it grows to know the world in its own way,
out of touch with its fellow, enclosed,
feeling out life like a blind man.

These soft nails
of quartz, bunched together,
grow hard, and change themselves
into opaque substance, hard as horn,
and the tiny, petalled toes of the child
grow bunched and out of trim,
take on the form of eyeless reptiles
with triangular heads, like worms.
Later, they grow calloused
and are covered
with the faint volcanoes of death,
a coarsening hard to accept.

But this blind thing walks
without respite, never stopping
for hour after hour,
the one foot, the other,
now the man’s,
now the woman’s,
up above,
down below,
through fields, mines,
markets and ministries,
backwards,
far afield, inward,
forward,
this foot toils in its shoe,
scarcely taking time
to bare itself in love or sleep;
it walks, they walk,
until the whole man chooses to stop.

And then it descended
underground, unaware,
for there, everything, everything was dark.
It never knew it had ceased to be a foot
or if they were burying it so that it could fly
or so that it could become
an apple.

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