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About this poet

Katie Ford is the author of Blood Lyrics (Graywolf Press, 2014). She lives in Philadelphia.

[I Failed Him and He Failed Me]

Katie Ford
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, too steady to help, 
Or was it the meat cut two days late, was it 
The deciduous branch and its dull wait for bloom—

But I remember the small thing rotating in us 
Towards hunger, how it did not fail to guide, 
And that we made no request of our souls or all souls 
Or the one perfectly distant soul 
                                         and so did not fail in what we did not do, 
Never begging at the sky but moving 
On the islands beneath it, hungry together by its rivers and bones. 

Who told us we had failed
If not the human world gone wrong? 

It was the world?

Ah, then we will fail again and again in the waters apart,
Bridging nothing, bridging nowhere 
Towards what we, failures, are.

Copyright © 2011 by Katie Ford. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2011 by Katie Ford. Used with permission of the author.

Katie Ford

Katie Ford

Katie Ford is the author of Blood Lyrics (Graywolf Press, 2014). She lives in Philadelphia.

by this poet

poem
Koi
After all the days and nights we've spent 
with Starry Messenger, with Dante, 
with Plato, his temperance
painted as a woman who pours 
water into a bowl but does not spill, 
after particle theory and the geologic time of this quartz 
gilded beneath the roaming gone, 
composites of limestone calculated
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

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,