two from katie ford

Good poems make you want to write something pretty. :) Here are two from Katie Ford.

“Colosseum” is excellent. A bit long, so just read it over here. When one is the site of so much pain, one must pray/ to be abandoned.

She talks about her collection in this interview. (I want a copy of it eeee. ♥)

Here’s another poem:



by Katie Ford

I can see the whole city, lights edging the harbor like yellow pins in uneven
cloth beneath the hands of a woman cutting the measured lines of a dress:
when it is done she will put it on to see if it fits.

Blackish harbor, facing east no facing west, lights
meaning anything but exit, ships waiting for dawn so they can navigate out,
fog in the cove, cigarette smoke in this

restaurant at the top of the Prudential.
Please do not use your hands to touch my face.
Please let me be decided.

Lights fringe the harbor, she is sewing a dress a centimeter too small,
you tap off the ashes, I lean into the winding smoke because it is not a myth,
because I can bring even an ending into the body.

The city now unsettled beneath us. My face eye-level in the class.

Please help me get up from this table.
Please put that thing down.

She turns an edge under. Smoke is taken in, smoke like a text
etched into two tablets of lung. Here, and here: Sinai.

Atoms fill their due portion of each ash.

Please look somewhere else with your eyes.

She undoes the knotted threads where she wants the blue and gray strips closer
to each other, crop of lavender, dust.

Please do not touch my face.

When she is done she takes off her clothes, raises her arms to get into the dress.

Please do not touch my face.

The harbor at its darkest, stillest, like a question in a throat.

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 bottommost floor, carcasses of mollusks 
settling, casting one last blur of sand, 
unable to close again. Next to me a woman, 
the seventeen pins it took to set 
her limb, to keep every part flush with blood. 
In the book on the ancient mayfly
which lives only four hundred minutes 
and is, for this reason, called ephemeral,
I couldn't understand why the veins laid across 
the transparent sheets of wings, impossibly 
fragile, weren't blown through in their half-day 
of flight. Or how that design has carried the species 
through antiquity with collapsing
horses, hailstorms and diffracted confusions of light.  
If I remember correctly what's missing 
broke off all at once, not into streets 
but into rows portioned off for shade as it
fell here, the sun there 
where the poled awning ended. Didn't the heat 
and dust funnel down 
to the condemned as they fought 
until the animal took them completely? Didn't at least one stand  
perfectly still?
I said to myself: Beyond my husband there are strange trees 
growing on one of the seven hills. 
They look like intricately tended bonsais, but 
enormous and with unreachable hollows. 
He takes photographs for our black folios, 
thin India paper separating one from another.  
There is no scientific evidence of consciousness 
lasting outside the body. I think when I die 
it will be completely. 
But it didn't break off all at once. 
It turns out there is a fault line under Rome 
that shook the theater walls 
slight quake by quake. After the empire fell
the arena was left untended 
and exotic plants spread a massive overgrowth, 
their seeds brought from Asia and Africa, sewn accidentally
in the waste of the beasts. 
Like our emptying, then aching questions,
the vessel filled with unrecognizable faunas. 
How great is the darkness in which we grope,  
William James said, not speaking of the earth, but the mind 
split into its caves and plinth from which to watch
its one great fight. 
And then, when it is over, 
when those who populate your life return
to their curtained rooms and lie down without you,    
you are alone, you 
are quarry. 
When the mayflies emerge it is in great numbers
from lakes where they have lived in nymphal skins 
through many molts. At the last  
a downy skin is shed and what proofed them 
is gone. Above water there is 
nothing for them to feed on—
they don't even look, except for each other.
They form hurried swarms in that starving, sudden hour
and mate fully. When it is finished it is said 
the expiring flies gather beneath boatlights 
or lampposts and die under them minutely, 
drifting down in a flock called snowfall. 
Nothing wants to break, but this wanted to break,
built for slaughter, open arches to climb through,
lines of glassless squares above, elaborate 
pulleys raising the animals on platforms
out of the passaged darkness. 
When one is the site of so much pain, one must pray
to be abandoned. When abandonment is 
that much more—beauty and terror 
before every witness and suddenly 
you are not there. 

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