Quiver and Other Poems


  after Carl Phillips

What do we do
             with memory, do we burn
or do we embellish it, do we
             study it like the elk

projected onto the archery
             studio screen, summer’s
gelatin halo shivering
             between its antlers, replayed

whether or not
             anyone will come
to practice on or witness it: is this
             what memory is:

static, unchangeable
              mind we step into
and the clearing opens: again,
             light rain, the scent

of moss, puffs of steam
             rising off the slick
black muzzle? Does the image,
             over time, brighten

so feverishly inside us,
             tearing through
the eye, the mind, the body: is it we
             who wander out, tentative,

into late morning light?
             What does it mean
to forget so much,
             happily, greedily, if not

that we are nourished most
             on loss? The video
spools, the elk steps into
             then out of its field,

who cares, it was dead
             the second the camera
found it anyway, captured
             and projected endlessly

so that we might practice making it
             dead again.
Is this the image to convince you
             of the blinding

limits to our world?
             Is this another entry
to your newest opening?
             The animal turns, the screen

inside its body shakes:
             open, bright, pocked
by tips of arrows
             that never find their mark.
People on couch
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