Love Sonnet VI
after Pablo Neruda
First-born, a babe newly mooned in my mother’s arms,
I pronounced my first love upon her breast
and she gave me breath. Lullabied years of tribulation
ached over my crib, and I awoke already a man.
Then my mother’s love was divided a hundredfold,
and I, like an insolent child, went around town
looking up every skirt I saw, asking:
“Are you my woman? Am I your man?”
The crescent moon was a hook or a cross, or else
it was the artful enemy that arms the suicidal.
And though I tried again to love only one woman,
others arrived—nightly criminals, excitable panthers—
and I was forced to weep between their legs.
This is the story of how I became alone.
by Ryan Dowling