If a Wilderness

Carl Phillips

 
Then spring came:
           branches-in-a-wind. . .
I bought a harness, I bought a bridle.
I wagered on God in a kind stranger—
kind at first; strange, then less so—
and I was right.
      The difference between
God and luck is that luck, when it leaves,
does not go far: the idea is to believe
you could almost touch it. . . .
          Now he's
singing, cadence of a rough sea—A way of
crossing a dark so unspecific, it seems
everywhere: isn't that what singing, once,
was for?
          I lay the harness across my lap,
the bridle beside me for the sweat—the color
and smell of it—that I couldn't, by now,
lift the leather free of, even if I wanted to.
I don't want to.
 
Reprinted from Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems, 1986-2006 © 2007 by Carl Phillips, by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Learn more about FSG poets at fsgpoetry.com.

Poems by This Author

And It Begins Like This by Carl Phillips
At Bay by Carl Phillips
Coral-bells purpled the fallen sycamore leaves, dead, the dead
Aubade: Some Peaches, After Storm by Carl Phillips
So that each / is its own, now--each has fallen, blond stillness.
Civilization by Carl Phillips
There's an art
Cloud Country by Carl Phillips
Leda, After the Swan by Carl Phillips
Perhaps, / in the exaggerated grace
Passing by Carl Phillips
When the Famous Black Poet speaks,
Porcelain by Carl Phillips
As when a long forgetfulness lifts suddenly, and what
Surrounded as we are, unlit, unshadowed by Carl Phillips
Squalor of leaves


Further Reading

Spring
Endymion, Book I, [A thing of beauty is a joy for ever]
by John Keats
The Winter's Tale Act IV, Scene II [When daffodils begin to peer]
by William Shakespeare
A Blessing
by James Wright
After dark vapors have oppress'd our plains
by John Keats
Alcove
by John Ashbery
Another Attempt at Rescue
by M. L. Smoker
Birds Again
by Jim Harrison
Black Petal
by Li-Young Lee
Butterfly Catcher
by Tina Cane
Chansons Innocentes: I
by E. E. Cummings
City That Does Not Sleep
by Federico García Lorca
Diary [Surface]
by Rachel Zucker
Each year
by Dora Malech
From you have I been absent in the spring... (Sonnet 98)
by William Shakespeare
Hustlers with Bad Timing
by D. A. Powell
In cold spring air
by Reginald Gibbons
In the Memphis Airport
by Timothy Steele
Lines Written in Early Spring
by William Wordsworth
Magdalen Walks
by Oscar Wilde
Morning News
by Marilyn Hacker
National Poetry Month
by Elaine Equi
Papyrus
by Ezra Pound
Prologue of the Earthly Paradise
by William Morris
Song On May Morning
by John Milton
Spring
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Spring
by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Spring and All [By the road to the contagious hospital]
by William Carlos Williams
Spring Day [Bath]
by Amy Lowell
Spring in New Hampshire
by Claude McKay
Spring is like a perhaps hand
by E. E. Cummings
spring love noise and all [excerpt]
by David Antin
Spring Snow
by Arthur Sze
Spring Song
by Sherwood Anderson
Spring Storm
by William Carlos Williams
Springing
by Marie Ponsot
The Enkindled Spring
by D. H. Lawrence
The Magpie's Shadow
by Yvor Winters
Thinking of Madame Bovary
by Jane Kenyon
Two Sewing
by Hazel Hall
Under the Willows [May is a pious fraud of the almanac]
by James Russell Lowell
Vernal Equinox
by Amy Lowell
[O were my love yon Lilac fair]
by Robert Burns