On visiting Pablo Neruda’s house, la Sebastiana

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“I went to find in Valparaiso a little house to live in and write quietly.”
    ~ Pablo Neruda

More than anything, I wanted
to sit at his desk, hold
his pen with its famous green ink,
write a few lines of my own
about this poet who loved life
and lived– and found this last house,
when he felt the “tiredness” of Santiago,
in the skeleton of another’s abandoned dream.

I wanted to ride the carousel horse
around his living room, drink his special punch
mixed in the ceramic bull,
sit by the fire on a rainy afternoon,
scribble in a notebook while he napped
upstairs. I wouldn’t be offended at my host’s
neglect, content to sip water out of a green glass goblet
and admire the view of the cerros, houses
built one on top of the other, scrambling
for the best vantage of the bay.

I wanted to sit at the bar, accept the glass
of wine he poured and listen
to stories about his beloved Chile.  I would admire
his collection of curios– many of which simply appeared
to fulfill his wishes.  “Collectors must not be shy,”
he would say, “they must tell everyone
what they are looking for.”

I wanted to linger in his house
until all the other tourists were gone,
wait by the window as dusk crept over the hills
and listen to the poet recite as shadows grew.
I want a house like this, I would say
into the darkness, to live and write quietly.
The silence would approve.

Valparaiso, January 2013