Handknit Socks

Two feet wearing thicker handknit socks in a range of greys to charcoal on a jute woven rug

Here’s a poem by Pablo Neruda on handknit socks:-

Mara Mori brought me
a pair of socks
which she knitted herself
with her sheepherder’s hands,
two socks as soft as rabbits.
I slipped my feet into them
as if they were two cases
knitted with threads of twilight and goatskin,
Violent socks,
my feet were two fish made of wool,
two long sharks
sea blue, shot through
by one golden thread,
two immense blackbirds,
two cannons,
my feet were honored in this way
by these heavenly socks.
They were so handsome for the first time
my feet seemed to me unacceptable
like two decrepit firemen,
firemen unworthy of that woven fire,
of those glowing socks.

Nevertheless, I resisted the sharp temptation
to save them somewhere as schoolboys
keep fireflies,
as learned men collect
sacred texts,
I resisted the mad impulse to put them
in a golden cage and each day give them
birdseed and pieces of pink melon.
Like explorers in the jungle
who hand over the very rare green deer
to the spit and eat it with remorse,
I stretched out my feet and pulled on
the magnificent socks and then my shoes.

The moral of my ode is this:
beauty is twice beauty
and what is good is doubly good
when it is a matter of two socks
made of wool in winter.

Handmade items are precious. But in being precious, one faces the conflict and dilemma of whether to actually wear them. Is it actually an appropriate show of appreciation and gratitude to just stick them in the back of a drawer, with all due precautions against moths? The wool certainly won’t keep your feet warm from there. Better holes from enthusiastic wear, I grudgingly accept, when I wear my own. But it’s the greatest compliment from another recipient. That they have worn to the point of worn my humble and clumsily wrought gift. There’s something very satisfying in keeping another warm and comfortable.

I’m also pleased to see that Pablo Neruda thinks that birds want melon too.

I'd love to know what you think, concrit is especially welcomed on fiction pieces. Thank you.

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