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The Deposition

Whether it more was like
the ocean,
or more

those pastures in the earth that
shift abruptly according to
laws that, even if I

give to them here
no name, apply
nevertheless outside, in

spite of–
I forget,
as so many somewhere always have

just said. Exaggeration,
to say I never thought
I’d lie among them; more exactly: I

had not hoped to. How
brief, comparatively
at least, that

feathered phase–
less Roman,
more Greek, more

birch than
ash, none of shame’s
nobility attached, but–

worse–the embarrassing
thud of blunder, to
ever have laid

the blue-to-black,
black,
then blue

familiar of self full-length
and down, ringside, as if there’d been
a ring, or as if by

long traveling at last done
in, as who would
not be? I

had not guessed it.
As when to find a stone
is to find revealed

no truth unless the truth
of stones, which
is to say the fact of

themselves only. Or
as when the song
of wanting is understood as

not at all the song of
being wanted,
not like thirst,

not like hunger,
not the disappointment
of only the one leaf gone

vermilion inside of
the tree’s saffron majority,
not a godlessness in

the wake of a habit of prayer, neither
that sort of wind, nor a tunnel, or through one, it
was not like that.

Originally published in the December 2000/January 2001 issue of Boston Review

–Carl Phillips



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