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, too steady to help, Or was it the meat cut two days late, was it The deciduous branch and its dull wait for bloom— But I remember the small thing rotating in us Towards hunger, how it did not fail to guide, And that we made no request of our souls or all souls Or the one perfectly distant soul and so did not fail in what we did not do, Never begging at the sky but moving On the islands beneath it, hungry together by its rivers and bones. Who told us we had failed If not the human world gone wrong? It was the world? Ah, then we will fail again and again in the waters apart, Bridging nothing, bridging nowhere Towards what we, failures, are.
Copyright © 2011 by Katie Ford. Used with permission of the author.
"You" have transformed into "my loss." The nettles in your vanished hair Restore the absolute truth Of warring animals without a haven. I know, I'm as pathetic as a railroad Without tracks. In June, I eat The lonesome berries from the branches. What can I say, except the forecast Never changes. I sleep without you, And the letters that you sent Are now faded into failed lessons Of an animal that's found a home. This.
Noelle Kocot, "The Peace That So Lovingly Descends" from Sunny Wednesday. Copyright © 2009 by Noelle Kocot. Used by permission of Wave Books. All rights reserved.
He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?
He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
I shook his hand, and tore my heart in sunder,
And went with half my life about my ways.
This poem is in the public domain.