To Kathleen, after Neruda by Craig Erick Chaffin
As the salmon seeks its mother gravel
through the lying ions of the sea, I seek you.
Without your body my blankets are cold,
the ground hard, my joints uneasy.
Apart, I am a mold for your bronze--
halved, discarded. Do you know this hollow?
There is no shame in love. Daily
I embarrass myself, collar strangers,
weary my children. I am the ancient mariner
condemned to speak of you wherever I go.
Have you suffered this? Who am I to compare us?
You are smooth as agate, I am ripsawn wood.
My heart seeks you like a cyclone.
I would swallow your farmhouse whole.
Without you I am a one-handed magician
cheating at solitaire, hoarding coppers.
When will you come to me? It is already late
and my father has closed the drapes.
I listen for your stride; I could never
confuse it with another.
Your back is strong as a barge,
your legs were sculpted in Greece,
your hips formed in India, your face
barely imagined by Da Vinci.
Your eyes threaten green lightning
from the Atlantic. You could crush me
with a word, like a mussel at low tide.
Why do I trust you so utterly?