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About this Poem 

"I wrote this poem after reading the Harper's article ‘The Guantánamo "Suicides": A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle,’ by Scott Horton (January, 2010); I was pregnant at the time. The poem will appear in my forthcoming book, Blood Lyrics (Graywolf Press, 2014)."
—Katie Ford

The Throats of Guantanamo

Katie Ford

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 out

simultaneity drinks twig tea and stitches
a hidden seam

I take a string to a bittern’s back and tie it
to the looping newborn delight

then read of each strangulation no bone or larynx
for proof maybe each part was tossed to bay

a medieval saint was asked what would you do if you knew
it was the end of the world

I’d dig in my garden he said
oh saint it’s a good answer

but here the end is torn out
one by one.

Copyright © 2013 by Katie Ford. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on August 15, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Katie Ford. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on August 15, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

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
I stared at the ruin, the powder of the dead 
now beneath ground, a crowd 
assembled and breathing with 
indiscernible sadnesses, light 
from other light, far off 
and without explanation. Somewhere unseen 
the ocean deepened then and now 
into more ocean, the black fins 
of the bony fish obscuring 
its
poem
I began to see things in parts again,
segments, a pen drawn against the skin
to show where to cut, lamppost through the stained glass
with its etchings of light against the wall —
it was the middle of the night. It was something we would tell no one:
The hospital roads with standing water, I drove quickly
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,