Ode to My Socks

By Pablo Neruda

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
knitted with her own
shepherd’s hands,
two socks soft
as rabbits.
I slipped
my feet into them
as if
into
jewel cases
woven
with threads of
dusk
and sheep’s wool.

Audacious socks,
my feet became
two woolen
fish,
two long sharks
of lapis blue
shot
with a golden thread,
two mammoth blackbirds,
two cannons,
thus honored
were
my feet
by
these
celestial
socks.
They were
so beautiful
that for the first time
my feet seemed
unacceptable to me,
two tired old
fire fighters
not worthy
of the woven
fire
of those luminous
socks.

Nonetheless,
I resisted
the strong temptation
to save them
the way schoolboys
bottle
fireflies,
the way scholars
hoard
sacred documents.
I resisted
the wild impulse
to place them
in a cage
of gold
and daily feed them
birdseed
and rosy melon flesh.
Like explorers
who in the forest
surrender a rare
and tender deer
to the spit
and eat it
with remorse,
I stuck out
my feet
and pulled on
the
handsome
socks,
and
then my shoes.

So this is
the moral of my ode:
twice beautiful
is beauty
and what is good doubly
good
when it is a case of two
woolen socks
in wintertime.

–Pablo Neruda
(translated by Margaret Sayers Peden)

image

Feet (Socks). Louise Bourgeois. 1998

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