Thinking Makes It So: The greatest poet of the 20th century

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By Kelly LeVan

Honestly, and despite a CB Fox truffle I ravished Tuesday afternoon, I haven’t felt wonderful this week.Everything is going well. It’s not that. I could write a tremendous family-letter style digest about all my accomplishments and joys.This would bore you to tears. Your nose might even start to run.Life could almost not be better, yet I found myself sitting, glum as old gum, in the UNM - Los Alamos library, thinking I should probably read something to enhance my indulgent misery, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” or – I cringed as though I had just eaten a bad beef ball – Pablo Neruda.I like romance. Love, I’m fine with. But Neruda brings on reverse peristalsis.Maybe my disgust for Neruda will vanish in my old age, much as my contempt for John Steinbeck has flipped completely on its back, a vanquished, childish turtle, now that I’m 30 and appreciative.But for now, I wouldn’t even read Neruda if I were stuck on a desert island with only Neruda’s poetry to keep me literate. I’m lying.Anyhow, I’ve always turned to books in times of senseless depression, or even during those nasty times when I had viable reasons for my discontent.It feels anti-American, or anti-21st century, to believe depression occasionally stems from life circumstances and not norepinephrine or serotonin levels.That being said, I’ve read a lot of books over the years.I like them, especially in those dankest of hours, because they just lie in my hands, patient and undemanding, and wait for me to make my move: to flip the page.In life, the pages flip willy-nilly on their own accord. They rip and belch and throw their screaming letters at my face.Neruda would say at “my soul.”I would say they only do that sometimes.Other days, the pages won’t flip at all, no matter how many eyelashes I wish on.I happened to, in my library-shelf padded room the other day, take down one book – one pink Neruda volume that matches my cell phone – titled “100 Love Sonnets” or “Cien Sonetos de Amor.”Within a matter of seconds, I counted a solid handful of moon metaphors, not to mention two references to jasmine and two more to oregano.I was about to replace Stephen Tapscott’s helpless translations of “alma” and “luna” to the shelf when a scrap of paper fell out.Underneath the typed question, “What would be the sequence of mRNA transcribed from the DNA segment 5’-ACGTCA-3’?” were four answer choices. I picked B – 5’-UGCAGU-3’.Underneath the multiple choices was a pink-inked poem, or part of a poem:“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”Ahhh, Neruda, do you never give it up?The penmanship, or pen-womanship more likely, suggests a passion reader copied the lines, inspired and identifying with Neruda’s soulful, sordid longing.Was her adored “dark thing” in prison, on drugs, in a mental hospital, a political exile, a friend of her father’s? Did she ever kiss her lover or only dream about it? Where is the place between the shadow and the soul? I kind of thought it was the library.Then I looked back at the study questions, and back at the poem. Maybe she wrote the poem as her answer, believing the lines of Neruda’s love sonnet formed the correct sequence of letters, the most complicated messenger RNA ever to meet a ribosome.It is dark inside that nucleus.And who doesn’t love protein synthesis?As usual, the library cheered me up, despite my dismal intentions. And it made me want to play a game, so here are the rules:

1. I’m going to place a note inside a book at Mesa Public Library – not UNM-LA’s library, since the semester ends next week.

2. Upon the note, I will write a line of poetry, something pretty well-known.

3. In next week’s column, I will drop a hint.

4. The first person to find the note and e-mail me the poem from which I took the line will win an elaborate mention in a future “Thinking Makes It So.”E-mail Kelly evidence of your talented sleuthing to laeditor@lamonitor.com.