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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). She lives in Philadelphia.

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
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
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,