Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/


After agony had left his body to find another,
or in search of no one, just agony on its
own for once, merely cruising,
something stayed, like
                                 a precipitate—grief, maybe,
that's what they said,
as if such had ever been
grief's properties ... Why is lying
to others always so much harder
than to ourselves? Yesterday, for example,
starlings in flight, the ice of
the frozen pond beneath them briefly
containing their shadows—not
                                              reflecting them,
not the way water does, the way
the water did, the way it will
in spring when the pond has unlocked itself
all over again with
no more regard than disregard
for the wings and faces that pass, or don't,
across it, so what,
                            so what? When I say
I trust you, I mean I've considered
that you could betray me, which means I know
you will, that we'll have between us at last
that understanding which is a safer thing
than trust, not a worse,
not a better thing ... Wanderer,
little firework, little
                             not-my-own, soon enough
the non-world we've been steering for
from the start: colorless, stripped of motion, all those
pleasures you knew so well how to give to others
gone also—pleasure,
I can hear you say, what world
was that

Carl Phillips

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

To view this poem online, visit the Poetry Daily archive at http://www.poems.com/archive.php
View a large-print version of this poem