Ode to a Woman Gardening

Ode to a Woman Gardening

by Pablo Neruda, translated by Jodey Bateman

Yes, I knew that your hands were
a budding sprout, a lily
of silver:
you had something to do
with the soil,
with the flowering of the earth,
but
when
I saw you digging, digging,
pushing pebbles apart
and guiding roots
I knew at once,
my farming woman,
that
not only
your hands
but your heart
were of earth,
that there
you were
making
your things,
touching
moist
doorways
through which
the
seeds
circulate.

So in this way
from one plant
to the other
recently
planted one,
with your face
spotted
with a kiss
from the clay,
you went
and came back
flowering,
you went
and from your hand
the stem
of the astromeria
raised its solitary elegance,
the jasmine
adorned
the mist on your brow
with stars of dew and fragrance.

Everything
grew from you
penetrating
into the earth
and becoming
green light,
foliage and power
you communicated
your seeds to it,
my beloved,
red gardening woman:
your hand
on familiar terms
with the earth
and the bright growing
was instantaneous.
Love, thus also
your hand
of water,
your heart of earth,
gave
fertility
and strength to my songs
you touch
my chest
while I sleep
and trees blossom
from my dreaming.
I wake up, open my eyes,
and you have
inside me
stars in the shadows
which will rise and shine
in my song.

That’s how it is, gardening woman:
our love
is
earthly:
your mouth is a plant of light, a corolla,
my heart works among the roots.