All the several darknesses that I hated once, though more often, lately, I row inside them, stolen boats, blown aslant these waters…
–Gracchus, fallen hunter, in your boat called Little Crown, O crown of Death, I don’t forget you. Even now, I trespass in your name.
PERMISSION TO SPEAK
And if I be torn?
And if torn means mendable?
And the wayward mission of your body be a needle’s mission, up and through my own?
How softly the after comes loose, unraveling, until it’s just before: bees again in the catnip, the yarrow, the last of those hydrangeas that I call forgiveness, for their useless unfolding and flowering routinely, each time as if this time something different will be what happens,
not the usual ghost of put-aside-for-now-sorrow disappearing, none of that steadiness with which he kept looking back – back at both of us, as he lifted away.
Carl Phillips is the author of more than eight books of poetry, including Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006, The Rest of Love, Rock Harbor, and The Tether, which won the Kingsley Tufts Award. His collection Double Shadow won the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for poetry. Phillips teaches at Washington University in Saint Louis and is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.