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By Carl Phillips

No eye that sees could fail to remark you:   

like any leaf the rain leaves fixed to and   

flat against the barn’s gray shingle. But


what leaf, this time of year, is so pale,   

the pale of leaves when they’ve lost just   

enough green to become the green that means


loss and more loss, approaching? Give up   

the flesh enough times, and whatever is lost   

gets forgotten: that was the thought that I


woke to, those words in my head. I rose,   

I did not dress, I left no particular body   

sleeping and, stepping into the hour, I saw


you, strange sign, at once transparent and   

impossible to entirely see through. and how   

still: the still of being unmoved, and then


the still of no longer being able to be   

moved. If I think of a heart, his, as I’ve   

found it…. If I think of, increasingly, my


own…. If I look at you now, as from above,   

and see the diva when she is caught in mid-

triumph, arms half-raised, the body as if


set at last free of the green sheath that has—

how many nights?—held her, it is not   

without remembering another I once saw:


like you, except that something, a bird, some   

wild and necessary hunger, had gotten to it;  

and like the diva, but now broken, splayed


and torn, the green torn piecemeal from her.   

I remember the hands, and—how small they   

seemed, bringing the small ripped thing to me.


Carl Phillips, “Luna Moth” from From the Devotions. Copyright © 1998 by Carl Phillips. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

Source: From the Devotions (Graywolf Press, 1998)

  • Living
  • Love
  • Nature

Poet Bio

Carl Phillips
Carl Phillips was born in Everett, Washington. He attended Harvard, where he received a B.A., the University of Massachusetts, where he earned an M.A.T., and Boston University, where he earned an M.A. Before teaching English at the university level, Phillips taught Latin at several high schools. He is a member of the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis and was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2006. See More By This Poet

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