Monday, October 9, 2017

As from a Quiver of Arrows by Carl Phillips

As from a Quiver of Arrows 

What do we do with the body, do we 
burn it, do we set it in dirt or in 
stone, do we wrap it in balm, honey,
oil, and then gauze and tip it onto 
and trust it to a raft and to water?

What will happen to the memory of his 
body, if one of us doesn't hurry now
and write it down fast? Will it be
salt or late light that it melts like?
Floss, rubber gloves, and a chewed cap

to a pen elsewhere —how are we to 
regard his effects, do we throw them
or use them away, do we say they are 
relics and so treat them like relics?
Does his soiled linen count? If so,

would we be wrong then, to wash it? 
There are no instructions whether it
should go to where are those with no
linen, or whether by night we should
memorially wear it ourselves, by day

reflect upon it folded, shelved, empty.
Here, on the floor behind his bed is 
a bent photo—why? Were the two of 
them lovers? Does it mean, where we
found it, that he forgot it or lost it

or intended a safekeeping? Should we
attempt to make contact? What if this
other man too is dead? Or alive, but 
doesn't want to remember, is human?
Is it okay to be human, and fall away

from oblation and memory, if we forget,
and can't sometimes help it and sometimes
it is all that we want? How long, in
dawns or new cocks, does that take?
What if it is rest and nothing else that

we want? Is it a findable thing, small?
In what hole is it hidden? Is it, maybe,
a country? Will a guide be required who
will say to us how? Do we fly? Do we 
swim? What will I do now, with my hands?

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