Ligature 4

By Forrest Gander b. 1956 Forrest Gander
The bioluminescent undersides of squid render them invisible to predators
below. That the radiance of the boy’s anger might protect him.
Walking the dog and stepping on a patch of repaired road, I remember the
soft spot in his head.
You’re deaf as a beagle. No, you are.
Can I feel the tide’s drag on the turning earth increase each day’s duration?
A hair in my nostril has gone white.
In absolute night, from my bed, I hear him aiming for the toilet’s center.
The sound deepens, voice finding its register.
Scientists call it an entangled system.
We survive Christmas, his face pressed to the smooshed bosom of his
grandmother in a house so immaculate, the spider in the seam of the
ceiling stands out obscenely.
Like a star at the outskirts of the galaxy, and slung around by the gravity of
dark matter. For now, he goes where we go, but he does not belong to us.
I begin to begin my sentences leaning toward him, taking a deep breath.
He relinquishes the conversation with a contraction of his pupils.
What is for one of us the throb of the immediate is, for the other, the
imminent mundane.
When napalm hits my brain, he takes on the tranquillity of a blinking
She finds a photograph of him at seven. The sheer expressed of his face. As
among Michelangelo’s early drawings, there is a copy of Masacchio’s lost
Sagra, the consecration.
We search our memories of him for a certain unity of characteristics that
would hold through the permutations he now submits to us.
When it clings to the wire-and-rug surrogate, lab technicians shock it
again. Instead of releasing, it clings tighter.
Throwing himself into the back seat after wrestling practice, mat burns on
his cheek and forehead.
His muteness an onomatopoeia of the rising moon.

Forrest Gander, “Ligature 4” 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)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Forrest Gander b. 1956

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Parenthood, Time & Brevity, Youth, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Home Life, Arts & Sciences, Photography & Film

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Prose Poem

 Forrest  Gander


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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Parenthood, Time & Brevity, Youth, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Home Life, Arts & Sciences, Photography & Film

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Prose Poem

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.