Monday, 12 May 2008
Pablo Neruda Absence and Presence
I sat in the garden, spattered
by the great drops of winter,
and it seemed to me impossible
that beneath all that sadness,
that crumbled solitude,
the roots were still at work
with no one to encourage them.
I was sooking recently to a friend about my inability to seduce Pony Girl from the Mallee Desert, even though I am quite sure we should get married tomorrow. The friend looked at me and asked, “Have you ever been truly in love?” and it was a loaded question. I knew what she was getting at. Pony Girl is a myth. Yeah, she seems perfect and all that, but in the absence of actually being her boyfriend / partner all I can do is be in love with the mythology of her, and so in the meantime, my friend was asking, of all my lovers and/or exes, have I ever truly been in love. I hate questions like that. I much prefer talking about footy (Go Tiges). Anyway, I was forced to concede that yes, indeed, I had been, and it was with a woman I often refer to as ‘that psychopathic ex of mine’, ‘whatzerface’, or ‘Andromeda 3.0’.
I was with Andromeda 3.0 for many years. We lived together, we owned property, we had two dogs and three cats, we were engaged, we were planning on having children and were approaching the wedding planning stage when I left her. I loved her to bits and would take a bullet for her. She loved me with equal ferocity. We were perfectly suited on a million different measurements and not only loved one another but revered one another.
I left her because she was a violent alcoholic.
She was riddled with mental illnesses (not her fault) which lead to many physical illnesses (not her fault) which rendered her anti-social, reclusive and unemployable (not her fault) and she became violent (her fault) and dependent upon alcohol (her fault).
I’m bringing this up because a) it’s my blog and I can say whatever the hell I want and b) this is relevant to the book review.
It has been two years since I left her, and she occasionally sends me text messages. They come in batches; whole series of them coming within the space of a couple of hours or so and she is clearly drunk when she sends them. They make no sense and are desperate and crazy. She’s sent me about 60 messages and I’ve sent three back. One said ‘stop contacting me’, another said, ‘stop fucking contacting me’ and the third was the wisest thing I’ve ever said – it was a response to a plea from her for us to meet again to which I replied, “the damage is done.”
The specifics of the ‘damage’ is neither here nor there, nor is the specifics of her illnesses and my decisions. What is relevant is that she loved me, and this was proven by the one message she sent me that came alone, that came when she was sober, and had nothing to do with our divorce. It said this: “You must read Pablo Neruda Absence and Presence”. That was it. That was all the message said.
So I bought it.
Then I read it.
It is exceptional.
It is a book made by a friend of Neruda’s, and it features excerpts from his poems, some essays about Neruda, and lots of photos of Neruda, Neruda’s house and his friends.
Neruda fans will love it, and even if you’ve never heard of Neruda and couldn’t give a flying fuck if he was in your pea-soup, you’d probably still love it.
But ay, there’s the rub.
You can’t read it.
This book, which I give an A+ to, is for me, not you. It is from Andromeda 3.0 to me. I want the whole world to burn every copy of this book that exists, except my copy. Because this book is mine.
Y’see, Pablo Neruda Absence and Presence was Andromeda 3.0’s very best way of apologising for the aforementioned ‘damage’, and after reading it, I then found the courage to admit to my friend that I once loved her. Of course, I told her I loved her when I was with her, often, and told other people all the time, but from the moment I left her, I never once said to anyone that I loved her - I refused to say the words - I was too busy calling her 'that psychopath' and refused, flatly refused to ever say I loved her because it was irrelevant.
This book means I can, now (though not to her, because that's not the point).
So, blog reader of mine, don’t read it.
It’s not for you.
This book exists solely for me.
Go read something else.