In Loco Parentis

By Mark Ford b. 1962 Mark Ford
were some quite creepy men — one
used to lie down
on the dayroom floor, then get us all
to pile on top of him — and a basilisk-
eyed matron in a blue uniform with a watch
beneath her right
collarbone. Thump thump
thump went her footsteps, making
the asbestos ceiling tiles quiver, and me
want to hide, or run like a rabbit
in a fire . . .
                    What we lost, we lost
forever. A minor
devil played at chess
with us, forcing
the pieces to levitate
and hover, flourishing swords, in midair. I’d grasp
them now, the orotund bishop, the stealthy
knight, the all-
knowing queen,
but they dissolve
in my fingers, refuse
to return to the board, to their squares.

Source: Poetry (January 2014).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2014
 Mark  Ford


Mark Ford was born in Nairobi, Kenya, and earned both his BA and DPhil from the University of Oxford. His collections of poetry include Landlocked (1991), Soft Sift (2001), Six Children (2011), and Selected Poems (2014). He is the author of a biography, Raymond Roussel and the Republic of Dreams (2000), and a parallel text translation of Roussel’s last poem, Nouvelles Impressions d’Afrique (New Impressions of Africa) (2011), . . .

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Poems by Mark Ford

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Time & Brevity, Youth, Relationships, Home Life, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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