‘Crossing,’ A Poem by Carl Phillips

From His Collection Wild Is the Wind

May 13, 2019  By Carl Phillips

Now that, at best, we’d rowed halfway across the woods
that we mostly thought of our lives as—despite the fact
of water—accepting our position, and understanding it,
still mattered, but not like remembering what
the point had been, why we’d set out at all, from
the very start: to release something, but what? whatever
the erotic version might be of a soul we ourselves scarce

believed in? A persuasive sound to that, but if nothing else
we’d at least learned to trust sound only so far, even as
we’d had to figure out the hard way to stop giving out trust
as if trust were sex, and not what more often just gets

confused with sex . . . Above us, what sang like water was
just the wash of trees, now moving, now at rest in a wind’s
disruption. A slight rustling beneath us, as of fruit unfalling
from the ground it fell to, each time we’d lift our oars
free of the waves, and steady them there, respite, shadows
in a mirror, bruises on the larger bruise of the sea’s black face.


Excerpted from Wild Is the Wind: Poems by Carl Phillips. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2018 by Carl Phillips. All rights reserved.

Carl Phillips
Carl Phillips
Carl Phillips is the author of sixteen books of poetry, most recently Then the War: And Selected Poems, 2007–2020. His new prose book is My Trade Is Mystery: Seven Meditations from a Life in Writing. He lives in St. Louis, where he teaches at Washington University.

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