Ruined Tunnel

By Forrest Gander b. 1956 Forrest Gander
One of them             drops radio into hardhat
                               and spits, Damn it,
                               boys, we won’t need this one.   
But hell, they had already drilled
the charge. In the dynamite’s   
wake, boulders turn to snow.   
Men walk through the trees.
            It’s cool now in here.   
Quiet enough
to hear tracks rust;
the Monte Ne line that never whistled through
and the summering passengers   
unstartled by sudden dark,   
the temperature drop.
Stones jut out,
gargoyles scabbed with lichen.   
The steamy eye
of an afternoon
watches us from either end.
            We are waylaid by a spell.
A stone
slithers off
or I imagine this.
In the pitch I feel
the others when they breathe.   
We are unborn. One
of our silhouettes speaks,
            There’s a camera in the car.
Bats opening like orchids.
The absence of one of us, unimaginable—
our present so intense
its tense is aorist.
Each of us afraid to leave   
two men he loves behind.

Forrest Gander, “Ruined Tunnel” from Rush to the Lake (Cambridge: AliceJames Books, 1988). Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Rush to the Lake (1988)

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Poet Forrest Gander b. 1956

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Nature, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Jobs & Working, Landscapes & Pastorals, Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 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 . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Cities & Urban Life, Social Commentaries, Jobs & Working, Landscapes & Pastorals, Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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