Panegyric for Sid

Patrick Phillips

The belly. 

The belly
of the boy.

The glowing white
and gray ultrasound
of the head,
and the legs,
and the belly
of the shimmering
sea-horse-sized
boy.

The wet feet
and knuckle-ish knees
and the cord
spilling from the womb
still attached
to the heaving
white and then blue,
purple then red,
and then breathing pink belly
of the suddenly
unattached boy.

Belly on which
my hand rests
like the giant sculpture
of a hand
in the first photographs
of the milk-mounded,
black-cord-crusted belly
of the bloody,
just-circumcised boy.

Boy in the crook of my arm,
in the nest of my neck,
touching my stubbled,
rough cheek
as I lift the white shirt
and kiss the great
sack in your hand
of the belly’s
barely perceptible skin.

Boy that I was,
boy that all men
of all shapes
and all beauty and all ugliness
were once,
unwittingly lovely,
unknowingly,
unabashedly
granting the world
the long, smooth,
unassailable proof
there is good
in the bad universe,
good in the weightless
white hair,
good in the joyful, meaningless quiver,
and the smirk and the scowl
and the grin,
good in the sleeping, full,
rising and falling
white belly
of the innocent
blond blur
of a beautiful boy.
© 2007 University of North Carolina Greensboro
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PATRICK PHILLIPS is author of Chattahoochee, winner of the 2005 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, as well as a “Discovery”/The Nation Prize. His work has appeared in such journals as Poetry, The Nation, and Ploughshares. He has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, the U.S. Fulbright Commission, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He lives in New York.