Issue 5

Poetry

Michael Salcman

La Chascona: In Neruda's City Home


The dining room seats
look like piano keys for a giant,
the patio juts its prow.
In the double portrait with Matilde
his face is disguised in her hair
while in other rooms, he’s as noisy as a bear
among the snakes and Whitman photos,
two bars, liquor pouring from a fish-mouth
faucet, small jungles divided by stairs,
a door hidden in a china closet,
and the sound of invisible water
bent to his shape.
Most of the walls are as white as porcelain
but for the library, yellow and red,
from which all the books have recently fled
the green air of Santiago.
A question like a prayer springs from my eyes:
who will make our bed
if it’s locked behind a door, like theirs?