Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


[I Failed Him and He Failed Me]

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.

Credit


Copyright © 2011 by Katie Ford. Used with permission of the author.

Author


Katie Ford

Katie Ford is the author of If You Have to Go (Graywolf Press, 2018), 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.

Date Published: 2011-10-19

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/i-failed-him-and-he-failed-me