Deep Calls to Deep

p
o
e
m
s

Until I reached the paddock
where the gelding grey
collapsed, back hooves
clacking like stones to
fire, I didn’t know of the melanoma
buried like a rotten black

bulb in his cheek & neck. I came
only to see his viscera

tagged & marked, some,
like the penis, knotted

with tumors metastasized
from the initial onyx
jewel, sunk in a bucket for later
jars, a class next fall. The spleen
enlarged to a tumid berry-purple
from minutes-ago euthanasia. I know
that empathy is just the body’s
twinging, its infinite note

held on self, but as I cupped
the black cancer, so much like

my own, warm & dense
as hope, I felt that design

held me in belief’s cold
rigor. No, I felt alone—

among the bio students
chorusing Wolff’s Law,

bone will adapt to loads
of pressure—me in my inappropriate

shoes, cotton flats wet
from the dewy pasture,

awkward as a severed
horse’s leg twitching

in the grass, my heart
of muscle remade.

Emilia Phillips is the author of two poetry collections, Groundspeed (2016) and Signaletics (2013), and she will join the MFA faculty at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Fall 2017.

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Further Reading

 August 3

I was wandering in a smoldering landscape, knowing that nothing could be done. The decisions had been made.