For Long to Hold

Carl Phillips

              Not because there was nothing to say, or we
didn't want to — we just stopped speaking
entirely, but like making a gift of it: Here;
              for you. Saturday birds picked the sidewalk's
reminders of Friday night's losses, what got left
behind. I've been mistaken about more than, despite
              memory, I had thought was possible... I keep
making my way through the so-called forests of the so-
called dead, I whistle their branches into rivers
              elsewhere, they tell the usual lies that water, lately
can hardly wait to begin singing about: love as
rescue, rescue as to have been at last set free. If
              that's how it always seems anyway, so what,
that it did? When I whistle again — not so hard
this time, more softly — each lie blows out, then
              away: lit candles; dust. — I take everything back.

Carl Phillips is the author of Then the War: And Selected Poems 2007-2020 and the prose book My Trade Is Mystery: Seven Meditations from a Life in Writing, among many other books.
Originally published:
April 1, 2014

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