I am content because before me looms the hope of love.
I do not have it; I do not yet have it.
It is a bird strong enough to lead me by the rope it bites;
unless I pull, it is strong enough for me.
I do worry the end of my days might come
and I will not yet have it. But even then I will be brave
upon my deathbed, and why shouldn’t I be?
I held things here, and I felt them.
—From “Psalm 40”
The poems in Katie Ford’s fourth collection implore their audience—the divine and the human—for attention, for revelation, and, perhaps above all, for companionship. The extraordinary sequence at the heart of this book taps into the radical power of the sonnet form, bending it into a kind of metaphysical and psychological outcry. Beginning in the cramped space of selfhood—in the bedroom, cluttered with doubts, and in the throes of marital loss—these poems edge toward the clarity of “what I can know and admit to knowing.” In song and in silence, Ford inhabits the rooms of anguish and redemption with scouring exactness. This is poetry that “can break open, // it can break your life, it will break you // until you remain.” If You Have to Go is Ford’s most luminous and moving collection.