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“She Seems A Part of Me”: On Carl Phillips’s “White Dog”

It is March, and I cannot remember this winter’s first snow, though I am sure I entered its white hive. By now it has been replaced. Weather comes and goes; we enter and exit. Today I have been “out” of weather (indoors), “in” weather (outdoors), back “out” of weather, and so on. This movement between out and in reminds me of the shifting relations—between owner and dog, literal and figurative, holding-on and release—that unfold in Carl Phillips’s poem “White Dog.”

Cloud Food

It was the third dry year. There had been a stream once, made of snowmelt from the mountains to the north, but even the snow had been sparse the winter our coyote mother met our dad, a dog who had his own concerns. When he stopped showing up, it wasn’t because he didn’t want to, Mam said. His obligations conflicted.