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Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews. Dance Card 1. My mother read Neruda to us in Quilpu, Cauquenes, and Los ngeles. On the title page, a drawing of Neruda and a note explaining that this edition commemorated the printing of the millionth copy. Had a million copies of Veinte poemas already been printed in ?
Or did the note refer to all of Nerudas published works? The first, I fear, although both possibilities are disturbing, and unimaginable now. My mothers name is written on the second page of the book: Mara Victoria valos Flores.
A somewhat hasty examination of the handwriting leads me to the improbable conclusion that someone else wrote her name there. It is not my fathers handwriting, nor that of anyone I know. Whose is it then? After closely scrutinizing the signature blurred by the years, I am obliged to admit, albeit skeptically, that it is my mothers.
In and , my mother was not as old as I am now; she hadnt turned 35, and was working in a hospital. She was young and full of life. This copy of Veinte poemas, my copy, has traveled a long way. From town to town in southern Chile, from house to house in Mexico City, and then to three cities in Spain. The book didnt always belong to me, of course. First it was my mothers. She gave it to my sister, and when my sister left Girona and went to Mexico, she passed it on to me.
Of the books my sister left me, my favorites were the science fiction and the complete works up to that point of Manuel Puig, which I had given her, and re-read after she went away. By that stage I didn't like Neruda anymore. Especially not Veinte poemas de amor!