Nov/Dec 2016 • Vol. XXXVIII No. 6 Poetry |

If You Go Away

    When death finds me, if there be sight at all, let me see as the torn coyote does, turning its head briefly, looking not with understanding but     recognition at where the flesh falls open around a wound that more resembles the marsh-violet's petals, that hard-to-detect-at-first darkening that happens—soft, steadily—toward the flower's throat. Why not     let go of it, I used to think, meaning that instinct by which the body shields itself from what threatens it unexpectedly—a fist, the next so-called unbearable question that's bearable after all, voila,     surprise … I know death's an abstraction, but I prefer a shape to things, though the shapes are changeable. In my latest version,     death is a young man with a habit for using one side of his mouth to blow his hair slightly up from his brow, while with the other half he mutters things like Each time I leave,     it's like I've left forever. Behind him, stray cabbage

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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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