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.