Happy Birthday, Pablo Neruda: A Poem by Muriel Rukeyser to the Great Poet

Neruda, the Wine

We are the seas through whom the great fish passed
and passes.  He died in a moment of general dying.
Something was reborn.  What was it, Pablo?
Something is being reborn  :  poems, death, ourselves,
The link deep in our peoples, the dead link in our dead regimes,
The last of our encounters transformed from the first
Long ago in Xavier’s house, where you lay sick,
Speaking of poems, the sheet pushed away
Growth of beard pressing up, fierce grass, as you spoke.
And that last moment in the hall of students,
Speaking at last of Spain, that core of all our lives,
The long defeat that brings us what we know.
Meaning, poems, lifelong in loss and presence passing forever.
I spilled the wine at the table
And you, Pablo, dipped your finger in it and marked my forehead.
Words, blood, rivers, cities, days.  I go, a woman signed by you--
The poems of the wine.

"Neruda, the Wine" by Muriel Rukeyser (from The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser. University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005).