Vikings: A Poem




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Vikings

The Vikings thought the wind was a god, that the eyes
were holes. A window meant a wind-eye, for the god to see with,
and at the same time through. I used to hate etymology —
What’s the point, I’d whisper: I was quieter back then, less
patient, though more easily pleased. I am pleased to have been
of use, I used to say to myself, after sex with strangers. Leaning
hard against the upstairs window, I’d watch them make their half
proud half ashamed-looking way wherever, and if it was

autumn — whether in fact, or only metaphorically — I’d watch
the yard fill with leaves, then with what I at first thought was
urgency, though it usually turned out just to be ambition. I’d
leave the window open, as I do now — if closed, I open it —
then pull the drapes shut across it, which of the many I’ve tried
remains the best way I know, still, to catch a wind god breathing.

 

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Carl Phillips is the author of 15 books of poems, most recently Pale Colors in a Tall Field (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020). He teaches at Washington University in Saint Louis. 

 

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