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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 3, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I wrote this poem by speaking it aloud over and over until I remembered it on a drive from Pittsburgh back to New Jersey. I have long interrogated the America one can see along the highways—its extremes manifesting in billboards, bumper stickers, and political campaign signs—and that America always lonelies me.”
—Emilia Phillips

Age of Beauty

This is not an age of beauty,
I say to the Rite-Aid as I pass a knee-high plastic witch
whose speaker-box laugh is tripped by my calf
breaking the invisible line cast by her motion
sensor. My heart believes it is a muscle

of love, so how do I tell it it is a muscle of blood?

This morning, I found myself
awake before my alarm & felt I’d been betrayed

by someone. My sleep is as thin as a paper bill
backed by black bars of coal that iridesce
indigo in the federal reserve of

dreams. Look, I said to the horse’s
head I saw severed & then set on the ground, the soft
tissue of the cheek & crown cleaved with a necropsy
knife until the skull was visible. You look more
horse than the horses

with names & quilted coats in the pasture, grazing unbothered

by your body in pieces, steaming

against the drizzle. You once had a name
that filled your ears like amphitheaters,
that caused an electrical

spark to bead to your brain. My grief was born
in the wrong time, my grief an old soul, grief re-
incarnate. My grief, once a black-winged

beetle. How I find every excuse to indulge it, like a child
given quarters. In the restaurant, eating alone,

instead of interrogating my own
solitude, I’m nearly undone by the old
woman on her own. The window so filthy,

it won’t even reflect her face, which must not be the same
face she sees when she dreams

of herself in the third person.

Copyright © 2017 by Emilia Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Emilia Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 3, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Emilia Phillips

Emilia Phillips

Emilia Phillips is the author of Groundspeed (University of Akron Press, 2016).

by this poet

poem

the sap that I am springtime
               makes me want to reread Virgil’s

Georgics while eating cacio
              e pepe with fresh-shelled

peas this morning over coffee I
              watched a video of spinach

leaves washed of their cellular

2
poem

Sometimes it’s
        bigger than my
              body, the body

that gave it
        life, that is
              its life—as if I’m

a frame for
       it, as if it
              continues beyond

my end, although no
        one, not here,

2