344: Pale Colors in a Tall Field

344: Pale Colors in a Tall Field

344: Pale Colors in a Tall Field

Pale Colors in a Tall Field
by Carl Phillips

Remind me to show you where the horses finally got freed
for good—not for the freedom of it, or anything like
beauty, though their running was for sure a loveliness, I’m
thinking more how there’s a kind of violence to re-entering
unexpectedly a space we never meant to leave but got
torn away from so long ago it’s more than half forgotten,
not that some things aren’t maybe best forgotten, at a
certain point at least, I’ve reached that point in my own life
where there’s so much I’d rather not remember, that
to be asked to do so can seem a cruelty, almost; bad enough,
some days, that there’s memory at all, though that’s not
exactly it, it’s more what gets remembered, how we
don’t get to choose. For example, if love used to mean
rescue, now it’s more gladiatorial, though in the end
more clean: Who said that? Not the one whose face I’ve
described somewhere as the sun at that moment when,
as if half unwilling, still, to pull itself free from the night’s
shadow-grove of losses, it first begins to appear. No.
Not that one. And not the one whose specialty was
making a bad habit sound more excusable by calling it
ritual—since when do names excuse? Wish around for it
hard enough, you can always find some deeper form
of sadness where earlier—so at least you thought—mere
sorrow lay. . . I’d been arguing the difference between
the soul being cast out and the soul departing, so I
still believed in the soul apparently. It was that long ago.

"Pale Colors in a Tall Field," by Carl Phillips, from PALE COLORS IN A TALL FIELD © 2020 Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Used by permission of the estate of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.