and the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.
a verse from pablo neruda's "poem twenty." i understood what it meant, or rather, i had my own interpretation of it, when i had it tattooed on my right hip 7 years ago. its meaning to me has become more significant with time. it's as if the 27-year-old me knew...except its that kind of unknowing knowing, the kind you only find out later. my friend tattooed me in his shop above the bead store on high street in morgantown. depending on factors insignificant, people might call my friend "the mayor," because he knows everyone in town, or "big seize," bc seize is part of his graffiti tag. i met him when his older shop was next to the coffee shop where i worked. he and my boyfriend at the time were both into graffiti, and a group of us used to go to the park in osage, right over the bridge from downtown, to watch the two of them paint the wall of the building next to the basketball court. those were good days.
seize is a tall, burly fella with an affinity for cafe bikes and w.b. yeats. he has countless tattoos, though the sword beginning right above one collar bone and ending on the other side as if it went through his neck is a standout. his hair is the color of my dad's favorite black licorice but his beard is not, and sometimes his beard's length and girth give that sword tattoo a run for its money. seize is an intimidating-looking dude, though if he lets you get to know him, you'll find a big 'ol heart buried just due south of "diem," as in carpe diem, which is tattooed in a half circle on his chest. he and i don't speak often. i don't think about him much, and vice versa, i imagine. but i thought about him recently and it hit me that i hope we'll always be friends. we have one of those friendships where we always pick up where we left off. he loves to give me a hard time just for fun, and i love to be given a hard time just for fun, so it's always nice to see him. seize will give me my next tattoo for sure, but it'll be a while, who knows how long. all i know is it'll be a name.
i have a copy of pablo neruda's poem twenty laminated. it sits on my coffee table, gathering dust until i remember to wipe it off, which isn't as often as it should be bc i rarely sit on my couch to look at it. actually, it's not a couch; it's a futon. my dad bought it for me a few days before i moved to memphis. he insisted on the most expensive cushion. he and mom and i went to the futon store next to the mexican place next to big lots; mom loves to browse but dad and i like to get things done and get out, so we hurried it up. i remember saying let's get the least expensive one, but of course dad couldn't stand the thought of me sleeping on it for any length of time, which turned out to be a short length at that bc not long after i arrived in memphis he bought me a bed. the futon stayed, though, bc i could never afford a couch, or at least i never thought to save up for one. i've never been much for planning ahead. bc then i'd have to eschew whatever i'm presently yearning for in favor of some sort of calm assurance that in some far off span of time i'll be able to have what i want. and if there's one thing i'm inclined to do, it's yearn. and if there's another thing i'm inclined to do, it's to have an aversion to doing away with my yearning. discipline in my life is reserved for exercising and paying too much attention to my dogs.
so over the past five years, this couch issue became oddly important to me. i thought about it a lot. i wanted a leather a couch, a sectional. leather so the dog hair wouldn't stick and dog slobber wouldn't stain. i'd daydream about how good it would be once i got a couch, how i'd invite friends over to sit on it. not just to sit on it; i'd make food and it would be an occasion. as of today, though, i'm allowing myself to squash my own dreams of the couch. while another thing i'm inclined to do is enjoy being right about things, i am not always right. the damn couch won't change a thing. and i know this bc more and more i'm finding that oftentimes the things you don't think about — bc you take them for granted or they're too difficult so you push them aside — turn out to be more important than the thoughts, much like gray hairs, which take up residence in your head without you noticing.
today i thought about pablo neruda not bc of the verse on my hip, but bc of the verse a few lines down in the poem: my voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing. my voice all too often goes hoarse in the very same attempt — to touch another's hearing. i bet that's not how he meant it in the poem; i bet that voice was softer, less urgent, and perhaps even more accepting of its own limitations. i bet neruda knew that other people have to notice their own gray hairs. and if they don't, it's better just to let the verses fall, to quiet the voice and pick up the pen.