The Echo of What Remains Collected Poems of Wanda Lea Brayton
— Inspired by "Sonnet XVII" by Pablo Neruda
for my husband, Danny Beatty
I do not love you with casual breath,
an unconscious act by which I only exist -
no, I inhale your scent and am captured in flight,
a wingéd creature with oceans of sky to traverse,
lost inside torrid thermals rising above mountainous ranges
with purpose, and with feasts of pure song.
I do not love you when the fire wanes on the hearth,
its glow fading deep into night, final sparks ascending
into the realm of innocent dream -
no, I embrace your warmth as we lay curled together,
fluttering flames that will not cease to illuminate
our surroundings with sweeter solace, scattering stars.
I will not love you as the sun claims its position
among billowing clouds, filtering sepia light where shadows
would shiver among the trees, petals drifting
as fruit becomes ripe and falls into our outstretched hands,
a gentle harvest unimaginable to those who weep
in their empty abodes, alone with memories.
I cannot love you with mere vagaries or ablutions,
for they could not contain the vastness of this utter delight,
this burrowing beneath my bones that causes my heart to sway
within its fragile folds, where life burgeons forth -
no, I cannot regale you only with hands or with words,
for they could never define these elegant sonatas
you etch upon my very soul from the simple complexities of your gaze.