Luna Moth

By Carl Phillips b. 1959 Carl Phillips
No eye that sees could fail to remark you:   
like any leaf the rain leaves fixed to and   
flat against the barn’s gray shingle. But

what leaf, this time of year, is so pale,   
the pale of leaves when they’ve lost just   
enough green to become the green that means

loss and more loss, approaching? Give up   
the flesh enough times, and whatever is lost   
gets forgotten: that was the thought that I

woke to, those words in my head. I rose,   
I did not dress, I left no particular body   
sleeping and, stepping into the hour, I saw

you, strange sign, at once transparent and   
impossible to entirely see through. and how   
still: the still of being unmoved, and then

the still of no longer being able to be   
moved. If I think of a heart, his, as I’ve   
found it.... If I think of, increasingly, my

own.... If I look at you now, as from above,   
and see the diva when she is caught in mid-
triumph, arms half-raised, the body as if

set at last free of the green sheath that has—
how many nights?—held her, it is not   
without remembering another I once saw:

like you, except that something, a bird, some   
wild and necessary hunger, had gotten to it;  
and like the diva, but now broken, splayed

and torn, the green torn piecemeal from her.   
I remember the hands, and—how small they   
seemed, bringing the small ripped thing to me.

Carl Phillips, “Luna Moth” from From the Devotions. Copyright © 1998 by Carl Phillips. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota,

Source: From the Devotions (Graywolf Press, 1998)

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Poet Carl Phillips b. 1959

Subjects Love, The Body, Nature, Relationships, Animals, Realistic & Complicated

 Carl  Phillips


Referred to as “one of America’s most original, influential, and productive of lyric poets,” Carl Phillips is the author of a dozen books of poetry and two works of criticism. He was born in Everett, Washington in 1959, and his family moved frequently around the United States. He earned a BA from Harvard, an MAT from the University of Massachusetts, and an MA in creative writing from Boston University. Before teaching English at . . .

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SUBJECT Love, The Body, Nature, Relationships, Animals, Realistic & Complicated

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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