It's Late Here How Light Is Late Once You've Fallen

Katie Ford

I began to see a gauze over the wheat.
The fields were darker where an owl had flown
against the window of the house. I bent
and put my fingers into its cold down. Hundreds
of tiny spiders unhinged their bodies, bodies
which are their minds, as my body was,
moving like a city wanting to go inside
all the cavities. Moths too,
some were caught and tried to flutter out. I put my hands in
farther. Felt the body of the thing, the owl. At first it seemed
so dead. Then, not at all—either my fingers
pulsing with blood or its breathing. I held
breath too, like a mother bent to the crib. Nothing.
Then maybe something. I looked behind me,
my fingers making out bones, twigs of what was left, glazed
by faint morning stars that pocked the sky when I looked up, stars
in their arc of recovery from being seen
into being hidden again by light. Some of its feathers
were matted. When it had hit the window
the storm layers shook the space between.
Lie still, I said to you,
I'll go see. But all I really wanted
was to leave that house, your
steady rise and fall of breathing inside it.
Outside, there was no farther in to go. It must have been
a barn owl with its heartish face
and lightly speckled underneath, its feathers
thin leaves spotted with mold. I pulled out my hands
and spread its wings out full, the soft body
exposed. And that's when I was sure it was dead—when it let me do that to its body.


Elegy to the Last Breath

Katie Ford

The heron in the marsh extends
its striped neck its dagger-bill points into the sky during its long sleep

it will be mistaken for a reed I had nothing
to hide by I had to move my body instead

into a space
that was not a space between the fallen-down wall and the grass

cement and grass pressed against my lungs collapsing
if owls fly among the ruins as it is written I had nothing to see them
with

grass had no room to shudder corridors flattened
in the dirt like veins pinched off by weight

Lord of harvest and of land if you commanded this
rest now it has come to pass.