Sure, I used to say his name like a truth that, just by
saying it aloud, I could make more true, which
makes no more sense than having called it sorrow, when it was only the rain making the branches hang more heavily, so that some of them, sometimes, even
touched the ground…I see that now.
I can see
how easy it is to confuse estrangement with what comes before that, what’s really just another form of being lost – lost, and trying to spell out wordlessly, hand-lessly, the difference between I fell and Sir, I’m falling. As for emptiness spilling where no one ever wanted it to, and becoming compassion, as for
how that happens – What if all we do is all we can do? What if longing, annihilation, regret are all this life’s ever going to be, a little music thrown across and under it, ghost-song from a cricket-box when the last crickets have again gone silent, now, or be still forever, as the gathering crowd, ungathering, slowly backs away?
8 The Paris-American
Carl Phillips is the author of twelve books, including Silverchest, forthcoming in 2013, and DoubleShadow (2011), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He has also translated Sophocles's Philoctetes and has written a book of prose, Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Life and Art of Poetry. Other honors include the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Lambda Literary
Award, and awards and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the Academy of American Poets, to which he was named a Chancellor in 2006. Phillips teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.