Haloing the Lion

It had seemed a good thing. And if from the beginning
there’d been also a certain sense of – well, doom
frankly, can we be blamed, given our lives, for
assuming doom as, if not the key part, then
an essential part of it: as in, without doom
how would good have had a shot at all at becoming
knowable? Who among us didn’t understand at least
about that? They say faithless and unfaithful
are not the same. Go figure. As if some kind of truce
or non-truce faded ages ago
had ever been the subject. This much I’ll swear to:
it was dark, mostly; we lived just west of here,
beside a sea into which the twin stars Detachment
and Obedience are said to have fallen and, ever since,
keep smoldering – the water’s that warm, the waves themselves,
when they break, sing with it, What’s a halo to a lion, anyway, forever.

Carl Phillips is the author of twelve collections of poetry and two collections of essays, the most recent of which is The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination (Graywolf Press, 2014). His honors, among many others, include the Kingsley Tufts Award, the Theodore Roethke Foundation Memorial Prize and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry. He has four times been named a finalist for The National Book Award.