Nov/Dec 2020 • Vol. XLII No. 6 Poetry |

Of California

We’d gone out walking among the sycamores. The dragonfruit cactuses, ornamenting the yards we walked past, hadn’t flowered yet, but soon would, the way what isn’t love at first feels like love, or can. It can seem impossible that it will find, like the dragonfruit, if not forgotten entirely, its inevitable place with so many other things that used to hold importance. They scarcely matter now. Why remember, at all? There’s a wind I call more deliberate, what the deer in flight makes, for example, a physics of muscle times the speed with which, dividing air, the deer rushes through it; and there’s another wind, that just happens. It moved easily among the sycamores. It made a sound like a mouth repeating over and over, as if somehow stuck, what I mistook, as he did, for the word senseless, but no — sexless: that was it. I couldn’t decide whether what was meant was without gender or something more along the lines of how, apparently, most people live: plenty of agony

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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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