Kathryn Kirkpatrick lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains and teaches at Appalachian State University. She is the author of five collections of poetry, The Body’s Horizon (1996), Beyond Reason (2004), Out of the Garden (2007), Unaccountable Weather (2011) and Our Held Animal Breath (forthcoming, 2012). Her poem addresses the intense grief around the aftermath of 9/11 and our government’s violent response.
Autistic boys in England
he said, and had to have their stomachs
cut and sewn.
Not pumped? I didn’t ask. So heavy,
They must be fetched, even when they’ve been thrown
down throats that young and small.
You can’t blame them.
They want so much to die. And no one asked
anything more. We didn’t want
to know them,
the boys who made heaviness
That morning our country
We felt bereft.
Ashamed. The Buddhist priest finished
his story. We saw how suffering
to find itself alive again,
(This poem originally appeared in The Recorder, The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society.)