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beasts | Poem by Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda
translated by Jodey Bateman

It was the nightfall of the iguana 
from his rainbow-colored crest 
his tongue like a dart 
sank into the greenery 
The monastic ant colony stepped 
with musical feet through the jungle. 
The wild llama, as delicate as oxygen 
in the wide brown high country 
went walking in his golden boots 
while the tame llama opened 
his candid eyes onto the daintiness 
of a world filled with dew. 
The monkeys braided 
an endless erotic thread 
along the shores of daybreak 
bringing down walls of pollen 
and frightening the violet flight 
of butterflies on the river. 
It was the night of the alligators 
the pure, pulsing night 
of snouts sticking out of slime 
and from the drowsy swamps 
the dull noise of scale armor 
goes back to the origin of the earth. 
The jaguar touched the leaves 
with his glowing absence. 
The puma runs through the thicket 
like a devouring fire 
while in him are burning 
the alcoholic eyes of the jungle. 
Badgers are scrabbling the banks 
of the river, sniffing at a nest 
full of living delicacies 
which they will attack with red teeth. 
And in the depth of the great water 
like the circle of the earth 
is the giant anaconda 
covered with ceremonial paint, 
devouring and religious.

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