Today a poem by Katie Ford, a friend, prophetic poet, and mama. I met Katie at Harvard Divinity School, where we were both students. Her poems have been making people stop in their tracks and take a deep breath since then. Amazing, searing language wedded to huge intellectual power and gorgeous imagery.
The flask in hand, it had its place.
And the canyon, for millennia, its place,
but our sorrow had neither place nor carrier-away,
and dared not hover over the child
whose breath opened as transom of a frail house.
We could not put sorrow in the dictionary, for ghastliness
already shot out its own defining
in rags of fired light;
the pigeons would not sleek it
over their dirty coats, nor fly
the sorrow against the aviary’s sharpened fence;
the ocean, so tired of receiving, glassed over
against sorrow’s divers, and each wonder of the world dug
its story more intricately towards the hiding
that simply wants to be at Earth’s restful core.
We could not shed it, we could not leave it.
Each day bridgeless, each night birdless,
all the nocturnals needless at the expanse
of our nightwatch.
But wake at the moon, we could, mumbling
are we in a horrorshow—
inside of sleep our shock-white minds caught on reels
where a child’s body breaks the heart
and the mother can’t know if she counts
I don’t know if the child heard
what wept at the bedside,
orderlies snapping smelling salts from their chalky bullets
against all the mothers falling, all the fathers catching
what each branch let down
of snow’s hidden weight.