305: Wake Up
305: Wake Up
by Carl Phillips
The road down from everything even you had hardly dared
to hope for has its lonely stretches, yes, but it’s hard to feel alone
entirely: there’s a river that runs beside it the whole way down,
and there’s an over-song that keeps the river company: I’m leaves,
you're the wind…
I used to think the song had to do with the leaves’
confusion, the wind letting up, their mistaking this for something
like courtesy on the wind’s part, or even forgiveness. But leaves don’t
get confused. Silly, to think it. And what can leaves know of courtesy,
let alone forgiveness? What’s forgiveness?
Wake up, for the falconer
has lost his falcon. He has heard that falcons are like memory, they
come back. But not all memories do, not all memories should. If
anyone knows this, it’s the falconer. How long ago that was…Yet
all the varieties of good fortune he’s come upon, as a hand comes
idly upon an orchard’s windfalls, how different he’s become since—
none of it matters, when the falconer steps back into memory as into
a vast cathedral, which is to say, when he remembers.
How cool it is,
inside the cathedral. And at first, how dark. Soon, though, he can see
a chapel set aside for prayers specifically to the virgin whose story he’s
always resisted. He sees a corner where people have lit candles, sometimes
for another’s suffering, sometimes for their own. He sees the altar with
the falcon sitting on top of it.
The weight of grief over what’s lost,
versus the shadow of what’s lost—forever struggling to return, and failing:
who can say which is better? The falconer’s eye meets the falcon’s eye:
I have a story, the falcon says, seems to, the wings lifting, the feathers
rippling with a story’s parts—I have a story; I can’t wait to tell you.
"Wake Up" by Carl Phillips, from STAR MAP WITH ACTION FIGURES by Carl Phillips, copyright © 2019 Sibling Rivalry Press. Used by permission of the poet.