Maya Phillips

Poem Ending with a Scene of a Woman Alone 

How can she place him, the absence
of his body (un)framed in the doorway of her apartment,
(un)sunken into the side of her bed where she doesn’t sleep?

The air gathers, puckers around him, or the almost-
him she imagines, the current warm, then cool, then warm
again like the breeze of a turning fan in the summer.

Even now, in his hollowness, in his somewhat-not-quite, still
he fills the room like water in a pitcher. Inside her apartment,
he’s messy, unsure of himself—whatever self

there is of him—spilling everywhere, trying the freshly vacuumed rug,
the mopped hardwood floors, the lavender-scented candle
in its glass votive holder.

She worries about the neighbors: what they’ve made
of their long fights and loud conversations, if they know
what has been changed, what she considers unspeakable—​​

What will they think, when she steps out
into the everything beyond her door, that hers is a shape
unaccompanied, but for something resembling grief—​​
what will they make of her?

May she open her windows, her screen door, to the sun
(though when it catches him, he’ll fleck and flicker
like an aluminum screen, be there then not at all),
when every other second widows her again?

Yes, so she’ll let them all see, she, mere she,
in her onliness, standing at the door, the wind ambling in:
formless, uninvited, breaking where she stands.

Maya Phillips was born and raised in New York. Phillips received her MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in At Length, BOAAT, The Gettysburg Review, Ghost Proposal, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Vinyl, and more, and her arts & entertainment journalism has appeared in The New York Times, Vulture, American Theatre, and more. Her debut poetry collection, Erou, is forthcoming in fall 2019 from Four Way Books. Maya currently works as the associate content editor & producer at the Academy of American Poets and as a freelance writer. She lives in Brooklyn.