Get our newsletters

While Reading Neruda, I Think of Some Things


Those who watched him living didn’t know

how deeply one he was with all of this.

-Rainer Maria Rilke

“The Poet’s Death”

The grackles will continue to rise

in noisy iridescence and you

will never know that I am gone.

This morning, silence greens

along the taut strings of webs

that span the roses at Hotel du Village

like the delicate walking bridges

farther north that divide

two Delawares:

Canal and River.

The roses’ names are fragrant

to the tongue: Pascali, Peace,

Rubiayat, the Hybrid Teas;

Frau Karl Druschki, Perpetual;

and the rampant climber, New Dawn.

In the nearby village, Lumberville,

children gather to dig a hole

to South America. They dip

their bent spoons in the wet grass,

their faces serious as stones.

Now and again, a small girl or boy

will lift a spoon of earth and air

and press it near her lips, or his,

as though the world were sugar-coated

cereal, and as good.

The dark mole-burrows tunnel out

beneath them They form

a crooked half-circle and peer

into the blackness they have made.

The sun lies scintillant inside

the hollows of their spoons.

These photographs will tell you little

of their antics. Or what is on their minds.

(It is not they, but I, who think

of South America, and of Neruda.)

No scent arises from the matte finish

of the rose, nor hum from the cicadas,

silent these long years, who pause

at the base of the catalpa.

How could you know from these

still shots that life teemed —

how it teemed — beneath the lens,

beneath the hands that held it

without rancor, and the heart:

that just beyond the aperture

‘s parameter and out of sight

of you, the children have abandoned

their digging to the star-nosed moles.

A doe lies down to give birth

at the pasture’s edge. Hills rise

like purple martins in the distance.


Footwork, 1988

- A Day for All Women brochure, 1990

New Hope Gazette, 2001

Julie Cooper-Fratrik received her MFA in poetry from Goddard/VT College; former Poet Laureate of Bucks County; Creative Fellow for two years at the Psychiatric Center of Philadelphia; winner of Achievement Grant from the Leeway Foundation; on the faculty of the Language and Literature Department at Bucks County Community College and served as an Advisor/Advising Specialist.

Poet’s Corner is curated by Bucks County Poet Laureate Emeritus Tom Mallouk and supported by a grant to the Bucks County Herald Foundation made possible by Marv and Dee Ann Woodall.

Thanks to donations and the support of the Woodalls, Poet’s Corner is back for another year. To submit a poem for consideration, email it to If the poem has been previously published, please say where it first appeared.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.