Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LEAVES FIRST, by CARL PHILLIPS



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THE LEAVES FIRST, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Before this crown
Subject(s): Love - Erotic


Before this crown.
Comes our history whose beginning is
animal, as old as,

they meet, they fuck, something
else binds them, Let us
not call it.

The man's mouth on mine,
my mouth on the woman, and inside her,
you, inside me, inside. Always-

Capitaine?
The woman first, and what to call
what it was bound us.

Let's not.
The ruin first.
The translation of one sister,

of another the extended
suicide-Yes,
but in what order, before or after

the mother failing
as she has to. Forgive. The mother's mouth
on the relative

stranger's. As we forgive
his on the woman-the mother-, and
inside her. The father first,
both the translation
and the extended leave
of him. Come the gifts, what else

binds him, a boat
of tortoise shell, a watch-
Yes, but in what order, before, after

the green compass,
green as the grass that
-- as it has to -- it gets lost in,

no wonder I can't
find it. The loss
first. Before the double blow,

not the father, but wind he says
he commands also, even absent --
the being struck

once for losing a thing given, once
for crying,
now it's gone.

Before the compass. Before
this crown.
The gift first, only,

so small in the child's hand that was small, blameless, already bound.

Copyright Carl Phillips







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