As the Rain Comes Down Harder

Carl Phillips

I.

That what you want
won’t be at all what the gods deliver.
Worse, that there are no gods,
there’s only intention—
what else explains
the power with which the escaped
falcon pulls skyward (but as if
through water, behind it) its bells
and jesses, its hood
for calming the fears that vision
always, it seems, brings
with it?

         Or does fear, instructional
         at last, clear a way
         for vision?


II.

He believes in heaven, what he calls
The Halo Bar—now and then, Club Halo.
He says sea foam’s more a mood, really, than a color.
He believes there’s a landscape inside the body that contains
the self, what gives to the body its own distinctiveness. Says
this accounts for how some people, seeing an abyss, see one more
thing to practice falling into, while others instead set up camp
beside it. Hard not to love that way of thinking,
or him, to be honest. When I actually told him so, once—
the part about him, I mean—he stayed quiet, at first; then he said
Each face wears fear differently. As if that were an answer. And maybe it was.
He says where he comes from the sign for peace can also mean
a swan, sleeping: he makes a fist with his left hand; with his right, he covers it.

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:
September 1, 2020

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