Once, the night lasted two nights
dusks, twilights and dawns blended all the colours together
and my soul felt both lighter and heavier, open, but dark
In every new place I always stay up at least one night and wait out the dawn. It’s a whole different production – kind of quiet, fresh, almost a backstage view: the garabagemen, the bakers, or dawn breakers, no matter – I always pretend they are light-extinguishers. Like in Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s Little Prince.
One such morning, way past sunrise, Tali and I were still walking around waiting for the small outdoor flea market on San Enrique to get going, in the meantime lazing on a bench at the foot of Papudo.
We were almost dosing off there in the pleasant 20C sun..
When a girl, slender and tall, walked up to a parapet and lay on it, looking straight up at the sky. She had a funky but simple style and a timeless kind of beauty – a black fedora, with strings of strong and straight-cut brunette shoulder-length hair sticking out, big clear eyes with just a smudge of smoky eyeliner, black cigarette pants and a black singlet.
She lay like that, with her knees slung over, intently, almost studiously, looking at the sky, for about 10 minutes, alone, with the sky.
Su voz, su brisa fue diferente..
There was barely anyone around yet.
A group of 6 sat on the corner, as if waiting for a bus, on a narrow wooden bench meant for 3.
Then a guy emerged from the upper Tempelman, lanky, hunched shoulders, hands in his pockets, messy hair, wearing a simple black t-shirt and black jeans. Somehow, even before anything happened, they already looked like they were two parts of a whole.
He almost instantly zeroed in on her, con una miranda perdida desees de aliento, but his walk automatically, seemingly instinctively, slowed, like he just wanted to enjoy the site of her, there in the weak morning sun..
At first I thought he was just going to watch her, or maybe even come up to her and try to start a conversation.
His unhurried, calculated amble was as cryptic as her attention to the sky. To a normal passerby it wouldn’t raise a question, but we were purposely people-watching, and the scene unravelling before our eyes was like a theatre play.
Not a jaguar’s prowl but neither a mosey, he gradually came closer, still looking completely captivated by her, a shadow of a smile on his face, an intense look in his eyes.
Until he was almost at her side, she didn’t notice him and paid no attention.
When his shadow swept across her face, she broke her inspection of the cloudless sky and looked in his direction. Because he was standing directly in front of the sun, she gave no reaction at first.
She, then, put her palm to her forehead to brush off the sun rays.
His expression was like a culmination of the slow approach, but still somehow reserved, controlled..
At this point we expected fireworks, intense hugs, kisses, or whatever movie scenario Hollywood tends to feed.
But they were so much better at this theatre play of theirs..
Recognizing him, she slowly lifted herself up and, palm still at her forehead, stood straight in front of him.
They stayed like that, immovable, quiet, with only their eyes smiling, just spellbound, fixedly looking at one another and speaking without words. En medio de la danza incapable de las voces, destejiendo los recuerdos..
Then, after a number of endless minutes and, to all appearances without any signal, they turned and walked down Almirante Montt, her fingers slightly brushing his, but not hand-in-hand.
And at that moment I could see how Neruda found inspirations for his poems here.
I love your feet because they walked
across the earth and against
the winds and over the mountains and oceans,
and because they found me..
The photos are details from Neruda’s quirky house at Isla Negra.