“Knowledge” by Philip Memmer
Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003
My philosopher friend is explaining again that the bottle of well-chilled beer in my hand might not be a bottle of beer, that the trickle of bottle-sweat cooling in my palm might not be wet, might not be cool, that in fact it’s impossible ever to know if I’m holding a bottle at all. I try to follow his logic, flipping the steaks that are almost certainly hissing over the bed of coals – coals I’d swear were black at first, then gray, then red – coals we could spread out and walk on and why not, I ask, since we’ll never be sure if our feet burn, if our soles blister and peel, if our faithlessness is any better or worse a tool than the firewalker’s can-do extreme. Exactly, he smiles. Behind the fence the moon rises, or seems to. Have another. Whatever else is true, the coals feel hotter than ever as the darkness begins to do what darkness does. Another what? I ask.
From Poems and Plays #11, spring/summer 2004
Copyright 2004 Philip Memmer.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of Philip Memmer. Copyright 2004 by Philip Memmer. For further permissions information, contact Philip Memmer, 2209 Gridley Paige Road, Syracuse, NY 13202, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
About the Poet
Poet, editor and teacher Philip Memmer is the author of four poetry collections, including The Storehouses of Snow: Psalms, Parables and Dreams (University of Washington Press, 2012).
Learn more about Philip Memmerat The Poetry Foundation.