Ligature

By Forrest Gander b. 1956 Forrest Gander
When the strong drag of the boy’s adolescence pulls through them, the
family rises into thinness and begins to break like a wave.
 
You turned away when I kissed you, the woman says. Why?
 
Half-lidded days of early winter.
 
When he points toward the woman, the boy looks at his hand the way dogs
will.
 
The boy’s jaw sets. As though behind his teeth, into the soft flesh of his
throat, a new set of teeth were cutting through. A mouth for what?
 
Each of them adopts a private view. Arguments veer every which way, and
who can follow? A sequence of dark non sequiturs blows in.
 
When one, when one word, when the word suicide enters the room where
they are shouting, the system closes down, prematurely becalmed.
 
The man writes, I am not given a subject but am given to my subject. I
am inside it like a parasite.
 
He sees the woman’s face contract at the approach of other futures than the
one for which her face was prepared.
 
So they inhabit their bodies like music, for a given time. And yet he
continues to act as if there were times to come.
 
I just want you to go away, one of them screams.
 
Expressionless and flat as a tortilla, the afternoon moon over their house.
 
She calls the man to a corner in the basement. Those aren’t spider eggs, he
says, backing up. Those are its eyes.
 
When the encounter with the self is volcanic, nothing can follow.
 
Tearing open the cocoon to reveal itself, a boy within the family.
 
As if they were waiting. As if inside experience, bright with meaning,
there were another experience pendant, unnameable.

Forrest Gander, “Ligature” from Eye Against Eye. Copyright © 2005 by Forrest Gander. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Eye Against Eye (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2001)

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Poet Forrest Gander b. 1956

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Coming of Age, The Body, Youth, Love, Realistic & Complicated, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Men & Women

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Prose Poem

 Forrest  Gander

Biography

Born in California’s Mojave Desert, poet Forrest Gander grew up in Virginia and attended the College of William & Mary, where he majored in geology. After receiving an MA in literature from San Francisco State University, Gander moved to Mexico, then to Arkansas, where his poetry—informed by his knowledge of geology—turned its attention to landscape as foreground or source of action.

Gander’s books of poetry include Eye Against . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Coming of Age, The Body, Youth, Love, Realistic & Complicated, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Men & Women

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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