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Pietas

by Philip White


For the day to come, for the green of the tree,
some violence would be required.
Consider the thistle’s alizarin dial, so poised
on medieval weaponry:
some violence would be required.
That the foundation be laid, the association
not founder, that language be believed,
some violence would be required.
That white marble breathe and the born-again
slide from the pelvic heat into the thigh
of the god, that Turnus bleed, that grief
find release, that the displaced laugh
and the strong be appeased,
some violence would be required.
In the father’s closet, on blank plains, by rivers and lakes,
at the doors of the temples, at landfall, in the face
of the old women and the mirroring towers,
in ice fields and forests, through gut-flora, the recurved
trenches, some violence would be required.
Sit down the child, speak frankly.
For the air she breathes,
for the feel of the sun,
some violence would be required.

 

Philip White’s poems have won a Pushcart Prize and have recently appeared in The New Republic, Poetry, The Cincinnati Review, and Poetry Daily Essentials. His book of poems, The Clearing, was published in 2007. (10/2009)


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