Sonnets for Cari
The tomatoes burst in one night—the face
of winter. The stove’s red coils heat up
soundlessly. My guitar’s locked in its case.
I want to write a sonnet for you, to cup
my blood in verse. But how can I adore
you, uncore you when we are cut
off? Our mother lover child cords
severed, unplugged—strewn on the floor.
We break down on the phone, the internet. I want you
to come back to Ohio, to come un-rut
my love, my cunt. In a bathroom in a bar, I’ll do
all the things I promised: make you quiver from your gut,
not forgetting, but forgiving; not holding
back, my winter heart unfolding.
Don’t forget our camping trip in Canso:
eyes stunned by the rising moon and sunset,
and kissing in the ditch, we couldn’t get
up—too much to say to let each other go.
Marry me, I said, and you said Yes. Don’t forget
that. Don’t forget the tent at night, drenched hands
holding each other; the make-shift band
of owls and beer cans, the grasshopper’s reprise; the wet
towels, wet with rain and with our love. We played
like lions while trees shook outside. Don’t
forget the morning sausages and old men singing Stan; don’t
forget how, whiskey-breathed, I sang to you, love: Maid
on the Shore: “Nothing I can find to comfort my mind.” Don’t
I said. But a tent is small; you’re across the sea.
Remember that proverb about doors?
One closes and another opens. Remember,
sweetheart? Making love in my grandma’s bed, her
Hungarian linen soft from years of sweat, the sure-
ness of how I want you soft and rhym-
ing next to me when we are old, a couplet
cradled from the cold. There are ways to let
you know. I swear by memories every time
we talk: remember swimming under the northern lights
that night? Smearing raspberries on our white breasts
and licking crimson until morning, the crests
of our waves never crashing; remember not quite
ever sleeping? If I had a ship, I’d come to you
and wake you with a sailor’s kiss, and say I do.
Return to Index of Poetry
by Erika Kulnys