Phillip Sterling

Naming the Day
by Phillip Sterling

He had asked and in reply—

swallowtail, joe-pye weed,
balloon flower, skipper

—the boy recalls a beach
where his father is teaching

the perfection of stone,
honed smooth and flat as

possible and best sized,
if possible, to fit exactly

the thumb and forefinger
of one’s throwing hand,

and to send it on a plane
like a pilot practicing

take-offs and landings,
and when they plumbed

the clear shallows of Lake
Michigan for more skippers

the boy learned bouyancy
as well, how to hold one’s

breath just so as to make
him float

—his mind a kind
of butterfly of its own . . .

He had asked and in reply

—his father spoke of botany
and geology, of physics,

foment of flower and rock,
and other words of love.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 20, Issue 3.

Phillip SterlingPhillip Sterling is the author of two poetry collections, And Then Snow and Mutual Shores, a collection of short fiction, In Which Brief Stories Are Told, and four chapbook-length series of poems: Significant Others, Quatrains, Abeyance, And for All This: Poems from Isle Royale. He has served as Artist-in-Residence for both Isle Royale National Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

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