The Wound

By Ruth Stone 1915–2011 Ruth Stone
The shock comes slowly
as an afterthought.

First you hear the words
and they are like all other words,

ordinary, breathing out of lips,
moving toward you in a straight line.

Later they shatter
and rearrange themselves. They spell

something else hidden in the muscles
of the face, something the throat wanted to say.

Decoded, the message etches itself in acid
so every syllable becomes a sore.

The shock blooms into a carbuncle.
The body bends to accommodate it.

A special scarf has to be worn to conceal it.
It is now the size of a head.

The next time you look,
it has grown two eyes and a mouth.

It is difficult to know which to use.
Now you are seeing everything twice.

After a while it becomes an old friend.
It reminds you every day of how it came to be.


Ruth Stone, “The Wound” from Simplicity. Copyright © 1995 by Ruth Stone. Reprinted with the permission of Paris Press, Inc.

Source: Simplicity (1995)

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Poet Ruth Stone 1915–2011

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

 Ruth  Stone

Biography

Poet Ruth Stone was born in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1915 and attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She lived in a rural farmhouse in Vermont for much of her life and received widespread recognition relatively late with the publication of Ordinary Words (1999). The book won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was soon followed by other award-winning collections, including In the Next Galaxy (2002), winner . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, Sorrow & Grieving

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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