A Conversation With Pablo Neruda

Wire, Emily Kennedy

SARAH: If you were ever curious about the lines on my face, I would send you to a palm reader. See, my lines match your lines: my lines are leftovers from when the lines of your hand cupped my face. I don’t have crow’s feet, I have blinded-by-the-light squint lines. I don’t have furrows on my brow – they are where-the-hell-have-you-been? contours. I do not have a half-face of wrinkles, I have a demi-facial scar. Left by you. The last thing I remember. We were broke artists, never starving. Hungry and poor. Happy.

PABLO: “What will they say about my poetry who never touched my blood?”

SARAH: Just because you don’t belong here doesn’t mean you should leave. You haven’t looked a single person in the eye; so don’t look at me like that. Don’t tug at your collar like it’s too hot in here. The temperature is perfect and you know it. Grow up.

PABLO: “Does smoke talk with the clouds?”

SARAH: Listen man, stop asking so many questions. I mean, who are you? Seriously. I’ma fuck you up. Fella, you don’t know what you’re up against. I’m hungry. Lend me a dollar.

PABLO: “Did salt’s teeth come from a bitter mouth?”

SARAH: Remember that time we freebased rocket candies and then ganged up on the guy in the giant penguin suit? Remember slushies and brain freezes and pop rock candies? The drugs of our generation? Yeah, that was all right. You and me, man. We were cannon balls on bicycles. We used to stuff our pockets with packets of sugar. It’s still in my toes, still in my underwear. How did it get there?

PABLO: “How many questions does a cat have?”

SARAH: How many steps to the new world? How many licks till we break skin? Enough already. Why can’t I trust a bald hairdresser? I mean, do you know this guy? What gives him the right? Where does he get off? No, seriously. Where does he get off? I want to watch. He looks like the quiet whimpering right-before-bed-under-the-covers kind of guy. Very Mormon. Very hot. Remember when we went to that club and you flirted with the waitress? You said,

PABLO: “What is the name of the cocktail that mixes vodka and lightning bolts?”

SARAH: She rolled her eyes and said, “gin and tonic?” I liked her.

PABLO: “Why do I hate cities that smell of urine and women?”

SARAH: Do you kiss your mother with that mouth? Remember when we heard Beirut with new ears? We sat quiet and war torn, weeping in each other’s faces like we’d just heard music again for the first time. Remember that time we drove across that suspended bridge and I grinned so hard to hide my panic attack? That was fun. Or the time we were stealing fruit and you bellowed,

PABLO: We were so broke. “And what did the rubies say standing before the juice of pomegranates?”

SARAH: What about that time you said,

PABLO: “Is there anything in the world sadder than a train standing in the rain?”

SARAH: You asshole, you think you’re so witty.

PABLO: “Perhaps they died of shame, those trains that lost their way?”

SARAH: Oh man, you are so depressing.

PABLO: “Why don’t old people remember debts or burns?”

SARAH: Good question. You still owe me twenty bucks.

PABLO: “How old is November anyway?”

SARAH: [I open my mouth to answer and then shake my head, rolling my eyes, crossing my arms]

PABLO: “You don’t want to answer me. But the questions do not die.”

SARAH: I am putting a moratorium on this relationship.

Quotes by Pablo Neruda are borrowed from his posthumous publication “The Book of Questions” (Copper Canyon Press, 1991, Translated by William O’Daly)