Sunday, May 30, 2021

Unbridled by Carl Phillips


To look at them, you might not think the two men, having spoken briefly
                and now moving away from each other, as different goals
                require, have much history, if any,
between them. That, for a time that seems longer ago now than in fact
                it’s been, they used to enter each other’s bodies so often, so routinely,
                yet without routine ever seeming the right way of putting it,
that even they lost count—back then,
                who counted? It’s not as if they’ve forgotten, or at least
                the one hasn’t, looking long enough back at the other
to admire how outwardly unchanged he seems: still muscled, even if
                each muscle most brings to mind (why, though)
                an oracle done hiding at last, all the mystery made
quantifiable, that it might more easily that way—like love, like the impulse
                toward love—be disassembled. The other man doesn’t look back
                at all, or think to, more immediately distracted
by the dog he had half forgotten at the end of a leash he’d forgotten
                entirely, though here it is, in his hand,
                and the dog at the end of it. What kind of dog? The kind whose
digging beneath the low-lying branches of a bush thick with flowers
                shakes the flowers loose, they make of the dog’s
                furious back a fury of petals that the dog takes no notice of,
though the man has noticed.
                How the petals lie patternless where they’ve fallen.
                How there’s a breeze, bit of storm in it. How as if in response
the dog lifts its dirt-blackened face from the hole it’s digging,
                then continues digging. Then the man is crying. No, it looks like crying.
                Now what good at this point do you really think that’s likely to do
either of us, he says, to the dog.

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