Why So This Quiet

            Dog lifts his leg to piss on the bull briar; pisses;
and up from the twists and thorns flies a ghost moth,
two of them, three, moving like an abandoned
but still persuasive, still shifting argument,
            until as usual they move how they move, even as
the field’s edge means the edge of the field, not
the shadow-stitched perimeter of childhood
            where someone’s explaining to me all over again
“A whip is not a lasso,” losing patience,
while someone else strikes a match, sets fire
                         to a box of maple leaves—desire—“No,
                         the leaves are what desire looks like, not how it feels.”

Copyright © 2022 by Carl Phillips. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 16, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.