by Pablo Neruda
The child’s foot doesn’t know yet that it’s a foot,
and wants to be a butterfly or an apple.
But then stones and pieces of glass,
and the paths of the hard earth
go on teaching the foot that it can’t fly,
that it can’t be round fruit on a branch.
The child’s foot then
was overcome, it fell
in the battle,
was a prisoner,
condemned to live in a shoe.
Gradually, without light,
it started to know the world in its own way,
without knowing the other foot, shut in,
exploring life like a blindman.
These soft nails
of quartz, in a bunch,
hardened, changed into
opaque matter, into hard horn,
and the small petals of the child
got crushed, unbalanced,
took the form of eyeless reptiles,
worms’ triangular heads.
And then they grew calluses,
they were covered
with tiny volcanoes
of death, unacceptable
But this blind thing walked
without respite, without stopping
hour after hour,
one foot and then the other,
now a man’s
or a woman’s,
through fields, through mines,
through department stores and ministries,
this foot laboured with its shoe,
it hardly took time
to be naked in love or in sleep,
it walked, they walked
until the whole man stopped.
And then it went down
into the earth and knew nothing,
because there everything was dark,
it didn’t know that it had ceased being a foot,
if they had buried it so that it could fly
or so that it could
become an apple.