Summer 1994 • Vol. XVI No. 3 PoetryJuly 1, 1994 |

Cotillion

Every one of these bodies, those in drag, those not, loves a party, that much is clear. The blond with the amazing lashes—ashes, more amazingly, his own—tells me it is like when a small bird rises, sometimes, like the difficult thing is not to. I think he is talking about joy or pain or desire or any of the several things desire, sweet drug, too sweet, can lead to. I think he means moments, like this one, sudden, when in no time I know that these lashes, the mouth that could use now more painting, these hairless, shaven-for-the-event arms whose shine, against that of the gown, a spill of blood and sequins the arms themselves spill from, glitters still, but dully, like what is not the main prize does always—I know this man is mine, if I want him. Meanwhile around us, the room fairly staggers with men, and an aching to be lovely, loved, even. As in any crowd, lately, of people, the heavy corsage of them stepping in groups, the torn bloom that is each taki

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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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