Children's Hospital

Our sorrow had neither place nor carrier-away,
and dared not hover over the child
whose breath opened as transom
of a frail house.
Nor could we put our sorrow in the dictionary,
for ghastliness already shot out its own defining
in rags of fired light.
Pigeons would not sleek it
over their dirty coats, nor fly
sorrow against the aviary's sharp fence.
Each day bridgeless, each night birdless,
all the nocturnals needless at the expanse
of our nightwatch.
                                     But wake at the moon,
we could, mumbling, are we
in a horror show?—inside of sleep
our shock-white minds caught on reels
where a child's body breaks the heart
and the mother can't know
if she counts as a mother. I don't know
if the child heard
what wept at the bedside,
orderlies snapping smelling salts from chalky bullets
against all the mothers falling,
all the fathers under
what each branch let down:
there's a hidden weight to snow.

Katie Ford, "Children’s Hospital" from Blood Lyrics. Copyright © 2014 by Katie Ford.  Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.
Source: Blood Lyrics (Graywolf Press, 2014)
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