Poetry by the Sea

The WRF and I walked down the stairs from the Pier to the beach – holding hands once again – and strolled on the sand looking for a spot to do our photo project with the glow sticks he was carrying in his backpack. The beach was surprisingly crowded for 10:30 on a Saturday night. There were people everywhere, and too much light because of it to effectively do the photo shoot, the WRF said. But not to fear.

I’d mentioned in my Tinder profile that I liked being read aloud to, and in our extensive text back and forth prior to actually meeting, the WRF had told me he was going to bring a book to read to me. We decided to hold off on the photos until we could find a less crowded, darker spot, and instead the WRF pulled out the sweatshirt he’d brought for me in case I got cold, spread it out on the sand near the water, and we sat down on the beach.

The book he’d selected was Pablo Neruda’s 100 Love Sonnets. My primary (read: only) knowledge of these poems came from the Italian film Il Postino, released in 1994, so I was fuzzy at best on my Neruda knowledge. The WRF refreshed my memory and told me that the entire book of sonnets had been written for Pablo Neruda’s wife, Matilde. The book was structured like a day, divided into four sections: Mañana (Morning), Mediodía (Afternoon), Tarde (Evening) and Noche (Night). These times of the day also mirrored the stages of a relationship.

The book was translated by Stephen Tapscott, a fact that might have seemed irrelevant that night on the beach but would grow to become an important part of our reading of Neruda’s 100 Love Sonnets.

“Do you want me to read them first in English or in Spanish?” the WRF asked me. It was the first time I’d ever gotten that question, and my heart melted a little bit. Reading aloud and speaking foreign languages were two of the qualities I found most attractive in a man.

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