“Little Shields, in Starlight”

A Poem by Carl Phillips

February 8, 2022  By Carl Phillips

Maybe there’s no need for us to go anywhere more far than here,
said the dogwood leaves, mistaking speech
for song, to the catalpa leaves, imitating silence. It was like
sex when, push the tenderness to either side of it, it’s
just sex; hardly sex at all . . . Hardly worth mentioning,
except forgetting seems so much a shame, lately, and why

shouldn’t there be records, however small, of our having
felt something without for once having to name it, I know
what my dirt is, as if that were enough, might well
even have to be, to have moved mostly with the best
intentions, at least, before we stopped, that’s
all that happens, I think; we stop moving forever.


Carl Phillips, Then the War: and Selected Poems, 2007-2020 

Then the War by Carl Phillips. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, February 1, 2022. Copyright © 2022 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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