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About this Poem 

"A dremel is a tool used for etching and engraving glass. To say more about this poem's content would trespass against the desire of the poem. Despite living in the 'information age,’ this poem wants very badly to say these words and no more."

—Katie Ford

The Fire

Katie Ford

When a human is asked about a particular fire,
she comes close:
then it is too hot,
so she turns her face—

and that’s when the forest of her bearable life appears,
always on the other side of the fire. The fire
she’s been asked to tell the story of,
she has to turn from it, so the story you hear
is that of pines and twitching leaves
and how her body is like neither—

all the while there is a fire
at her back
which she feels in fine detail,
as if the flame were a dremel
and her back its etching glass.

You will not know all about the fire
simply because you asked.
When she speaks of the forest
this is what she is teaching you,

you who thought you were her master.

Copyright @ 2014 by Katie Ford. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 14, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by Katie Ford. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 14, 2014.

Katie Ford

Katie Ford

Katie Ford is the author of Blood Lyrics (Graywolf Press, 2014), Colosseum (Graywolf, 2008), and Deposition (Graywolf Press, 2002). She is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Levis Reading Prize. She teaches creative writing at the University of California, Riverside.

by this poet

poem
Despair is still servant
to the violet and wild ongoings
of bone. You, remember, are 
that which must be made 
servant only to salt, only 
to the watery acre that is the body
of the beloved, only to the child
leaning forward into 
the exhibit of birches 
the forest has made of bronze light
and snow. Even as the
poem

Morning opens with the comforts of my unbeaten body
a tinkerer’s stack of quiltings and cannings the cloth finch

half-attached to a mobile of warblers and wrens
in the meantime my country sends post to mothers and fathers

back again fly a trinity of boys
with their throats torn

poem
I failed him and he failed me—
Together our skinned glance makes a sorry bridge 
For some frail specter who can't get through.

I failed him 
               but maybe it was the lamp that failed,
Maybe it was the meal,
Maybe it was the potter 
Who would not intervene, maybe the clay, 
Maybe the plateau's topaz,