Carl Phillips

Soft Western Light

There are places where it’s still
possible to watch bees map
a garden out with what
used to be called industry
in a language that feels

each day less and less
my own. But the dream
of exile turns out
mostly to have been
a false one: me cutting

the weaker parts routinely
away from what, set a bit
more free that way, might
more likely flourish;
it seems it’s better,

to flourish… To confine
desire to what holds
sweetness – how small desire
would be. In the more
reliable dream (but

who’s to say more true)
I’m just a body like any
other in the world,
in motion. The leaves shift
slightly as I pass beneath them –

not acknowledgment, but
like that. It’s as if they cared
for me, or felt at least
they should seem to care. I’ll miss
you too.

Carl Phillips’s most recent poetry collection is Pale Colors in a Tall Field (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020).

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