Significant Others


poems by

Phillip Sterling

Poetry chapbook, 28 pages, cover price $7

ISBN: 978-1-93090-768-3

Release date: 2005

This title was selected for publication as a result of finishing as a runner up in the 2004 MSR Chapbook Contest.


Phillip Sterling is the author of Mutual Shores, a collection of poetry, and the editor of Imported Breads: Literature of Cultural Exchange. His awards include a NEA Fellowship in poetry, a Syndicated Fiction Award and two Senior Fulbright appointments (Belgium, Poland). He is the founding coordinator of the Literature In Person Reading Series at Ferris State University, where he has taught for many years.


She was the late-season frost
bargaining shapes of evergreens
on the lawn, marking as though

with arrows an alternate direction,
a route the sun would take anyway.
He was the light before morning,

the garden remembering
without any help. She claimed
she didn’t know better. Yet

in an early, unposed photograph
her gray eyes show
what we would call gratitude,

wonder at his grave misjudgments.
It was that way between them.
Warm rains came, rumbled

the dim tin roof, brought resonance,
foreboding. Her eyes flirted
with the light: quick fish

at the surface of a spring-fed pond.
It was that way once. Between them,
there was no other way.


She was a whitewashed porch, railings
randy with honeysuckle, a sagging wicker settee.
She was thin ankles tanning in the sun,

a place he’d long to live.

He was work socks philandering in the laundry bin.
He was grass-rim and mold,
an occasional appetite for wild fowl.

If he asked, she would ask in return;
if she asked, he would answer:
Joy is the fortune of unquestionable light!

She would sleep like an easement of the highway
he’d walk, reciting poetry in the fog,
sometimes with (and sometimes without)

a mostly black dog.


He was the county road commission,
six ton plows the orange of bittersweet,
a pyramid of salt and sand. Off-hours
he was cue chalk at the fire station.
His team was local, his beer domestic.

He was a district library housed
in the old schoolhouse, a public concern.
He was print media and digital.
He was acid free. His sweaters hung
odors of popcorn and spun sugar.

They were wind-drop from a far-reaching tree.
They were solitude and together: he
the black walnut, meat and shell; he
the green husk yellowing on the easement,
the road one takes from here to there.

SKU: 978-1-93090-768-3 Categories: , Tag: