“Los versos mas tristes”

Reading a poem by Pablo Neruda this morning, I realised that his mood was mine today, though his poem was allegedly about a love long gone. Mine – had I written it – would not be about love at all.

It would be about autumn, about the slow dying of everything around us, as temperatures drop and drop, winds fall silent and finally halt altogether, so that the surfaces of lakes take on a smooth uncanny shine. This is when you are reminded that at absolute 0 all thermal motion stops.

It would be about how much of life is of the past, how much of love too, albeit. I might even insert a reference – though one doesn’t insert references in poems, does one – to Manuel Serrat’s song Balada de Otoño, because I could never express nearly as poignantly the sadness of ended love. People from my parts don’t write about such things.

People from my parts might write about our time’s bombed-out towns, streams of haggard people limping across continents, huddled at night in improvised camps – they are starting to freeze now – about acts of helpless and almost futile kindness against so much misery – there’s no looking away.

True, the trees are still wearing their leaves, autumn sunsets are more brilliant than ever, and the late afternoon glow of golden foliage brings smiles onto the faces of the most unlikely people. Passing total strangers, you might exchange with them a slight nod of recognition, and you can almost hear them thinking “so you too have come out to admire the light.”

These are the last golden embers before the light goes out and all becomes dark and cold.

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