Spring 1992 • Vol. XIV No. 2 Poetry |

In the Blood, Winnowing

1 Before the dumb hoof through the chest, the fine hair of wire drawn over the head to snap free the neck's blue chords, before the visionary falling away from a body that mumbles to itself, consigned to the damp sling of tropic circumstance, there was this morning now, in the shower, when you know you are dying, you are dying and your body-- a lozenge or a prayer, whatever goes slim and unimportant when the tongue has grown overly zealous-- contracts under the steam, under the light that shows up on your skin as a deep red the shower's curtain alone can't account for.   2 What is it but yours, the one hand drawing the scrotum (no longer yours) back upon itself? When you come into the other hand, it's like spitting on death's breast, onher spectator shoes, to distract her. Trembling in the water, in the stick of yourself, you watch the talisman's shadow twist, already diminished against the tiles, to the pig's-tail stump of conclusion, all it ever

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Carl Phillips
Carl Phillips is the author of thirteen books of poems, most recently Reconnaissance (FSG, 2015). He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis.

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