University of Massachusetts, Boston Poetry Prize, 2016

Palmyra's Arch of Triumph

by Emily Jaeger

                        For Mary Warnement

How you run, gun-drunk stone—fall where
you’re flung in the yellow brush. A prayer

of smoke and veined stone sounded for five blasts—
masked men marching, subtitled on the newscast:

now we’ve made an end to this perversion.
Opening the Ruins of Palmyra at the Boston

Athenaeum, Mary points to a plate
the size of my chest. The Palmyrene Gate,

a stone-carved mouth of zinnias and fern.
James Dawkins’ ink-pierced page is a western

flag erased when the world blinked its grey eye,
churning you to dust. The book closed, she sighs—

the faceless men buckle spires to flame—
You can’t ever walk through this door again.

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