Leda, After the Swan by Carl Phillips

You love to write about the body, says my friend. You might like to give nature a try. I’m afraid I’m not good at it, dear. There’s just something so…otherworldly about it that I’m afraid to touch.

Leda, After the Swan
Carl Phillips

Perhaps,
in the exaggerated grace
of his weight
settling,

the wings
raised, held in
strike-or-embrace
position,

I recognized
something more
than swan, I can’t say.

There was just
this barely defined
shoulder, whose feathers
came away in my hands,

and the bit of world
left beyond it, coming down

to the heat-crippled field,

ravens the precise color of
sorrow in good light, neither
black nor blue, like fallen
stitches upon it,

and the hour forever,
it seemed, half-stepping
its way elsewhere—

then
everything, I
remember, began
happening more quickly.

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