Alba: Innocence

By Carl Phillips

Sunday. The bells, as expected. I cannot
help it if I rise, if finding the room too
fraught with light—all of it, the white
walls, the rinsed notion (always almost

inside then just out of reach) of God, your
body gleaming in sleep where the sun falls
on it and away from, falls on and away—
I have to shut my one good eye and at once

the leaves falling but now blurred make it
possible to see how it happens, a bruise
lifting itself over time from the darker
blues to, slowly, something like amber,

to at last whatever, before the wounding,
the flesh was. Imagining the flesh before
or without knowledge, I want to say it is
most like song untrained, whose beauty,

when it occurs, surprises even itself—
but isn’t it also, more commonly, just
meat, or isn’t it good soil waiting, that
does not, cannot know that it is waiting?

Therefore, it is innocence. Therefore,
a capacity for suffering more vast, even,
than the landscape whose particulars, you
remember, we drove past, the red of sunset

upon them: the bull in mid-lumbering over
the cow (still with patience, with fear?),
almost, not yet inside her; the sudden
bursting of crows, all cinders flying over

where once, presumably, was some small life.
We were tired, hungry, faintly hungry for
each other. We kept driving: east, home,
toward a dark we couldn’t fast enough get to.