Carl Phillips

Close Your Eyes

Waterfowl, lifting off water their feathered cargo;
and the water after—just after—trembling like
water of course, muscular, then like a half-held
belief not only that affliction trumps rescue,
but that it should finally—why not? All along
the shore, I considered the difference between
the body as announcement, merely, and as
instruction, and could not decide. As if that
urgency that had burned always around the need
to decide—about everything, and as if absolutely—
had at long last stopped its burning, or now burned
more dimly. Wasn't the salt air many things
besides salt? Hadn't it always been? Semen,
rogue lilac, late-flowering scotch broom...Just
as long as we get there, eventually
, wasn't
that it? Misunderstood intention; intentions
understood where, from the start, there were none.
Bleached driftwood. The exposed roots of
trees whose names I'd known once, some I
remembered still, for others I made names up,
some I couldn't decide. Some victories depend
proverbially on surprise; others—the bulk of them—
on flexibility, displayed fan-like in the face of
what might look at first like defeat, like a chance
gone missing. Remnant fog; the glittering shore—
like a life, or a version of it, that I'd grown so
used to, I'd forgotten it almost. I'd forgotten you.
Trust me. Trust me, the way one animal trusts another.


© 2003 Electronic Poetry Review