From the archive: How to Write a Love Poem, by J. Rodney Karr

TIR staff

You must not deny the body:
Her lips flowered
Around a beautiful word, her breasts
Gliding under a blue silk dress like moons
Through atmospheres of the equinox,
The slight shadow of her thigh
Caressing a September-red poppy as if water;

Because there you will notice within
Her eye's hazel mire, a color caught
Between those blacks and jades
Of desire, a color you will hear
Like one who watches the meadow rue bud
Open during the April evening
And claims to have heard a voice;

And when you have listened to that voice,
When you have walked for hours
Through the umbers and reds
Of sycamore forests, through the first veil
Of snow over the clover field, walked
Above the frozen lake for hours, months,
Alone, until Spring, listening to that voice

Which is all voices: the sound
Of the mothered fawn, of the loon
Searching for water, of the mud releasing frogs,
Of the ice breaking and the snow melting
Until each drop that falls from the lichen
And the moss is also a voice,
Then you have heard
A single word: love.

Now begin.

—Iowa Review, 24/3, Fall 1994

Happy Valentine's Day!