“Rowan Tree,” a Poem by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

From the New Collection “Silver”

March 7, 2024  By Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Rowan Tree

This time I got everything wrong again.
The tree: it was red. And the sky was gray.
Tomorrow ran off with today today.
I’d swallowed time just so I could get things
Right. I was a present to myself but went
Right past it. I called myself it and sat
With it, sad with it, and yet couldn’t find
The lie in it. It suited me to a
T. Without it, who would I be? I was
So tired but scared to say it: knowing
What tends to come after—I zipped it.
I parabolaed between parables,
Playing Bach’s Concerto in D-Minor,
BWV 974, for
The despair deep in it before
It falls towards the solution
Of its final chord. That’s when, in the great
Silver apogee of night, I stepped out
Into the warm air and stripped the rowan
That had been growing there bare until it
Was barely there, roots crowning its nadir,
And everywhere crowing beware beware.


Silver: Poems - Phillips, Rowan Ricardo

Excerpted from Silver: Poems by Rowan Ricardo Phillips. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2024 by Rowan Ricardo Phillips. All rights reserved.

Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Rowan Ricardo Phillips is the author of seven previous books of poetry, prose, and translation, including his most recent collection Silver. The recipient of a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing, the Nicolás Guillén Outstanding Book Award, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, and the GLCA New Writers Award, Phillips has been a finalist for the Griffin International Poetry Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry, and an NAACP Image Award, and has been long-listed for the National Book Award for Poetry. He is a Distinguished Professor of English at Stony Brook University and the poetry editor of The New Republic. His book in progress, I Just Want Them to Remember Me: Black Baseball in America will be published by FSG in 2025. He lives in New York City and Barcelona.

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