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Callaloo 23.1 (2000) 29-30

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Dead Reckoning

Carl Phillips

Part 1: In the Family

Filled, finally, with.
Washed over by.
The rest--falls, as if
away, seeming like that, like
certain lilies
undone by their own
splitting apart
around, unfolding from,
showcasing (but
incidentally), exposing
utterly (but this,
instinctive) their wet
their original scent
forgone for a difficult
sweetness that
carries the room, difficult
because the smell of
that which flourished
ending, of initial
rot, really--only
just starting, [End Page 29]
how at first
a sweetness, than which
--admit, there have been
worse ways to be led
art, for instance;
its kinsman
ruin, for instance;
the belief that springs from, is
for a time
sustained by the business
conducted between the two
absolute, that
exchange), a belief
that nothing short of
agony invests
adequately a life
with meaning--
if a neck,
then broken; if flesh, not only
torn, but
lavish let be
the angle all tearing
starts at--
      A gift.
A darkness. Very dark especially
about the trees, where
trees were.

Carl Phillips is the author of From the Devotions, a finalist for the National Book Award, In the Blood, winner of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize, Cort├ęge, finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and his most recent collection, Pastoral. He teaches at Washington University (St. Louis), where he has also served as the director of the Creative Writing Program.



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