Proximity is the Greatest Motivator of Fear

And love.
————–My worst nightmares
—–are of losing teeth. It’s their
proximity to the brain, why
we say, Let me chew on this awhile
———-or Sink your teeth into
this. When a Life
———-Force helicopter flew over my
father’s suburban home, he made us
duck in the living room.
————–He was on leave from
——–Afghanistan, and I did
———-as he said, not because
I was frightened
but because he was, and nothing I
—–could’ve said could change that. Near
one another, any two
———————————words begin to
morph, like atoms gifting ions, so that care
and pressure begin to rhyme, and no and
more, and so whatever you say
—–is is. Next to my father, fear
——-comes close to patience.

Emilia Phillips is the author of Signaletics (University of Akron Press, 2013) and two chapbooks. She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, U.S. Poets in Mexico, and Vermont Studio Center. Her poetry appears in AGNI, Gulf Coast, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Kenyon Review, Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. She serves as the prose editor of 32 Poems, on staff of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and as the 2013–2014 Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College.


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  1. Pingback: Table of Contents, Issue Five | Matter

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