Ode to a River Boulder

Ode to a River Boulder

Humankind say loneliness
but the boulder says solitude.
Boulder, old abider,

moveless and aloof
to the liveliness of the the river you live in,
though its leaves, its archipelagoes

of ice congregate against your gut,
your spine. What’s it to you
if birds make advances on your bald spot,

if the sun never warms your mossy side,
your right cheek in winter? You let the smelt
nibble stonewort below your waistline.

And once, a half-naked woman
pressed her breasts upon you, stroked you
like a fat pear for the photographer.

It’s said her body could sway a man
but she did not sway you. You weighed in
never to envy the love of stones

among stones. When you are gone
you shall go alone, a grave of sand a mile long
beneath the river murmuring,

a fine sediment between a child’s toes,
a final cloud of silt
as the crayfish flash away.

— Ryan Dowling
first published in The Rockford Review

Love Sonnet IX

Love Sonnet IX
after Pablo Neruda

Love, I am such a central flame, loving solitude
and the way she drives me with her big eyes,
and the violin she burns at the bottom of my well
that fills the stones with your sound of horses.

I thought that together we could be this solitary pain,
one loneliness: a sort of flower on the moon,
drilling its white into our childhood’s windows,
into our entire planet of two people.

But I know you better: seeking love in loud circles
of liars, piling your hair on the slow genitals
of earth, afraid because I have placed this one star

in the palm of your universe: even so, I forgive you.
You could not know what it is to be so alone.
You could not know what it is to be so in love.

by Ryan Dowling