Setting Out at Dawn
Michael Phillips

Setting Out at Dawn

     for Robert Bly

The path thuds underfoot
like hollow bones
          upheaved by frost and thaw,
its untrodden borders bereft
of the scratching and scampering
of tiny animals.
The denuded forest
is an exposed ribcage
          bracketing the lake.
The sun barely pierces
dawn's brittle skin.
          Death's hand is on everything.
The blood is viscous at this hour,
the heart a reluctant companion.
I'd give a limb
to shed this grief
as prettily as the loon
belts her mournful tune.
          I am walking myself back to life.
Day after day
I travel in a loop
that encloses each dawn
and ushers me back
to the beginning.

Michael Phillips

has published poems and short stories in many literary journals, both in print and online. He works as a medical editor for a nonprofit healthcare institute and lives with his wife, daughter, and puppy in southeastern Pennsylvania.