Archive, Poems

Carl Phillips: “Darkening, Brightening”

Darkening, Brightening

Listening’s not enough, you’ve gotta watch them, that way they feel
less lonely
. Him singing. Maybe I’m singing it. Latest hunch:
it’s been too late, forever. Raft of sunset. Swing
of the mind like a fist, swinging—rough here, here
more delicate, as if undecided: to mean no harm, or
to not especially,
to not especially . +just now, be looking for it. The raft
noticeably less steady here, where the water this
otherwise silence most resembles has turned abruptly still:
braid-less, the water. Like remembering the words themselves—
Swans rowing at nightfall across a sky filled with snow, and
Very little we wouldn’t have done for what we thought
was power—but not
Rain over everything like,+who said them. The breeze
notwithstanding. The usual first moths appearing,
moth-like, flower-like, like those flowers from childhood
we used to call Strip Heaven, a game, something someone
played, once. The way I’m figuring it, the half-life’s
Rain over rainrainrainra everything like sunlight,+
not a half-life,
when it’s all you’ve known, he says, watching me
watch back. The sound of two bucks locking antlers. Sound
of luck—shadow-luck—when, unexpectedly, it seems
Rain +there’s been
some mistake. I hate the word unbearable. All this talk about
trust coming always down, after much struggling, to a
Rain +drowned body:
easily lost; not irretrievable—Very well, then. Drag the lake.

Carl Phillips is the author of thirteen books of poetry, most recently Reconnaissance. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

Image: “Mesolithic representation of a herd of stags.” Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Creative Commons license 4.0.