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Andrena Zawinski: Dancing with Neruda’s Bones  

Neruda, only known to me in the poet’s words––

I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,

in secret, between the shadow and the soul––

Neruda’s bones have been exhumed for examination.

I did not want his decomposed body uprooted

from its plot, transmogrified into murder mystery.


Poet of eternal present, I cradle his imagined bones

and pull them to me, his tango body’s phalanges

jangling as I cross and giro tibia and fibia––

pinned by the sun between solstice

and equinox, drowsy and tangled together

clanking across tiles of a kitchen floor.


Let Neruda be, I plea, still dancing, his bones tethered

to my body tripping and swaying in tango rhythm,

talking head on the radio droning on

in conspiracy theories of the Pinochet regime

poisoning Neruda, life split in poetry and politics

as the night wind whirls in the sky and sings.


Forecast of ill fortune––to lift bones from the grave––

much like this wave of melancholia. In inevitable

surrender, I concede: what does it matter

to have dug them up as his love lyrics resonate

in his monotoned moan, Gardel crooning

behind our bumpy boleo: el dia que me quieras.


Neruda’s unearthed skeleton clings to my arms,

scent of honeysuckle climbing limbs like vines,

as I sweep and dip inside his metaphoric sigh of sea

and our final soltada––voice of the rain crying:

no carnations or barcaroles for me,

only a wound that love had opened.


Neruda, now so mystical and magical,

cloaks his bones in flesh and play, conjures

a dusty fiddle, leaps and lands on the walkway below,

the violin with its ragged companion…

learning how to befriend lost souls

and sing songs to wandering strangers.



Copyright 2017 Andrena Zawinski. From her collection Landings published by Kelsay Books.

Author’s note: In this surreal narrative, the Neruda lines are italicized and from his poems in this order: “Love Sonnet XVII,” “Drunk as Drunk,” “Poem Twenty,” “Lost in the Forest, Come With Me I Said and No One Knew VII,” “Ode to a Violin in California.”


Andrena Zawinski is an award winning poet and educator, born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA who has made Alameda, CA her home. She is the author of several collections of poetry: Something About (Blue Light Press, San Francisco) received a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award. Traveling in Reflected Light (Pig Iron Press, Youngstown) was a Kenneth Patchen competition winner in poetry.

One comment on “Andrena Zawinski: Dancing with Neruda’s Bones  

  1. Florence Miller
    March 6, 2018

    Beautiful , Andrena

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on January 16, 2018 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , .

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