Monday, January 3, 2011

Sister Neruda in Moscow

[from Pablo Neruda's Confieso que he vivido, 1998]

Outside Moscow, on my way to another city, I see wide white roads. They are rivers, frozen. From time to time on those unmoving river beds, like a fly on a dazzling cloth, rises the silhouette of an dedicated fisher. She stands on the vast frozen savannah, chooses her spot, & drills through the ice until the buried current shows. At that moment she can't fish because the fish have fled the noise of the saws breaking the hole. So the fisher sprinkles food to lure the fugitives. She throws her line & waits. Waits for hours & hours in that devil cold.

I say a writer's work has much in common with those Arctic fishers. The writer must find the river &, if it's frozen, break the ice. She must spend patience, bear the temperature & the contrary critic, defy ridicule, search for the deep current, throw the proper line, & after so so much work, reel in a tiny fish. But she must fish again, in the cold, the ice, against the current, the critic, so that each time she will land a larger fish.

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