Love Sonnet I

Love Sonnet I
after Pablo Neruda

You needn’t love me as long as I may still love you;
the sun still hatches an Aphrodite from its sea of flame;
a lumberjack is splitting the badly coupled still;
still the stars accumulate in the most avoided corner.

Not a drop of water in all the world will change us,
for as long as what you feel for me is a moon-white child
that has died of her love for thirst, for the sweetness
of absence, love’s fire sleeps in a soft roar.

Take it all away from me, my dear, only not too far;
I want to know that if I drag my heart across this desert
I will find at its end your footprint or a single tear.

Go on looking, my dear, for anyone, anyone but me,
only do not find him; leave me at least the slightest chance
that, of all these drones, I alone may love my queen.

by Ryan Dowling

Wolfsbane (Aconitum)

Wolfsbane (Aconitum)

On our stroll back from the estuary,
we rested beside a riverbank
and tugged these hooded flowers
from the edge of the foam.
I told you that they were violets,
but—what did I know?—
I couldn’t tell a lily from a lilac.

I wove them into your curls
until your hair was as heavy with purple
as dusk upon the rollicking waters,
slow-motion in the quickening breeze.

When I leaned my lips into yours,
yours had begun to quiver and sweat.
You grew rigid
and heavy
as petrified wood.
At first I was embarrassed
I’d overstepped
the boundaries that boys often risk
when faced with beautiful girls.
But later, I learned that the stems
of those flowers
had leaked into your scalp—
though it was hardly anything,
hardly anything at all—
this I learned
only after the paramedics
gave up on you.

by Ryan Dowling