Phillis Levin

On Either Side of the Word Lie
January 10, 2013 Levin Phillis

On Either Side of the Word Lie


The letters that must be taken away

To find the word nestled inside


Or not yet born. Removing those letters,

Deciding how many, which ones,


Is a science that resembles forgetting,

Dismemberment in the service of song.


Finally a new word rises from its shell,

And if it cannot rise it calls out, saying


It’s time to be said, I’ve been here

All along, but you were reading with-


Out speaking, seeking without seeing

A syllable alone is a seed of light.

Phillis Levin has poems forthcoming in Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, and Plume Poetry 8. Her newest collection, Mr. Memory & Other Poems (Penguin Books, 2016), was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is the author of four other collections and the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet: 500 Years of a Classic Tradition in English. She lives in New York and teaches at Hofstra University.