Ruins

By Eliza Griswold b. 1973 Eliza Griswold
A spring day oozes through Trastevere.
A nun in turquoise sneakers contemplates the stairs.
Ragazzi everywhere, the pus in their pimples
pushing up like paperwhites in the midday sun.

Every hard bulb stirs.

The fossilized egg in my chest
cracks open against my will.

I was so proud not to feel my heart.
Waking means being angry.

The dead man on the Congo road
was missing an ear,
which had either been eaten
or someone was wearing it
around his neck.

The dead man looked like this. No, that.

Here’s a flock of tourists
in matching canvas hats.
This year will take from me
the hardened person
who I longed to be.
I am healing by mistake.
Rome is also built on ruins.

NOTES: Read the Q&A with Eliza Griswold about this poem

Source: Poetry (December 2012).

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2012
 Eliza   Griswold

Biography

Eliza Griswold is a poet and reporter whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, Harper's, and the New Republic. Her books include the poetry collection Wideawake Field (2007) and the non-fiction title The Tenth Parallel (2010), which examines Christianity and Islam in Asia and Africa. In 2010, Griswold won the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome for her poetry, and in 2011, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Activities, Travels & Journeys, Social Commentaries, Class, History & Politics, War & Conflict, Living, Sorrow & Grieving

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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