Don't

Carl Phillips

Spring 2019

Though the city itself has long since
been smashed up and plundered for anything left
worth plundering,
                             the walls that surrounded it
stand unbroken, still, as if war—like time,
technically—didn’t really exist. Can time exist, if it’s
just an understanding? For animals, to rise to the hunt
at nightfall, to lie sated by dawn—
                                                          is that time? People
built walls around cities long ago, to protect the city. But
the walls, though they announce, or suggest at least,
that there’s a city behind them, make of the city
itself—of the various lives that any city
equals—a secret, finally. So,
                                                to protect becomes also
to make secret. To protect, to wall in, to make
unfindable, as sometimes dignity, I suppose,

Carl Phillips’s new book, Pale Colors in a Tall Field, will be out from Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 2020. Sibling Rivalry Press will publish his chapbook, Star Map with Action Figures, this fall.

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