Sonnets Made of Wood
To Pablo Neruda
‘I surrender this century to you: wooden sonnets that arise only because you give them life’.
Pablo Neruda to Matilde Urrutia
Carve me, then, onto the smooth grain Of your sonnets – that I might be Your Matilde. I will sing up Driftwood from Atlantises planed For you by seas inscribed already With the tides’ chopped lines. Cup Me in the curve of each cursive, In the strung foliage alive Through the wind-played air. You will not be her betrayer For I have my own tools to share Work on seasoned lengths bare As flesh, my own chisel on offer To bevel an eternal affair.
What woman would not want to be The sap in beeches, the resin in acajou, Amarante, her breath turning violet The heartwood, conjuring recitals From trunks’ ridges of braille. She Would wear on her fingers rings true As those telling the inner age of octets In felled cocobolo dells. Pablo, lay out for her and for me Floorboards to polish with beeswax For the home on your lips, the melody Of copihue bells in your arms. Impart Your skills with awl, spokeshave, axe To restore every wedge-split heart.