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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 15, 2017.
About this Poem 

“A bit more than two years after the end of my marriage, I remembered that the history of poetry stores within it the history of making a homemade gift for someone you love. On Christmas Eve I wrote this poem, and on Christmas Day I gave it away.”
—Katie Ford

All I Ever Wanted

for DMK

When I thought it was right to name my desires,
what I wanted of life, they seemed to turn
like bleating sheep, not to me, who could have been
a caring, if unskilled, shepherd, but to the boxed-in hills
beyond which the blue mountains sloped down
with poppies orange as crayfish all the way to the Pacific seas
in which the hulls of whales steered them
in search of a mate for whom they bellowed
in a new, highly particular song
we might call the most ardent articulation of love,
the pin at the tip of evolution,
modestly shining.
                                    In the middle of my life
it was right to say my desires
but they went away. I couldn’t even make them out,
not even as dots
now in the distance.  
                                         Yet I see the small lights
of winter campfires in the hills—
teenagers in love often go there
for their first nights—and each yellow-white glow
tells me what I can know and admit to knowing,
that all I ever wanted
was to sit by a fire with someone
who wanted me in measure the same to my wanting.
To want to make a fire with someone,
with you,
was all.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Katie Ford. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Katie Ford. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

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

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,

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,
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