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With Ruins Analysis

Author: poem of Li-Young Lee Type: poem Views: 7

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Choose a quiet

place, a ruins, a house no more

a house,

under whose stone archway I stood

one day to duck the rain.

The roofless floor, vertical

studs, eight wood columns

supporting nothing,

two staircases careening to nowhere, all

make it seem

a sketch, notes to a house, a three-

dimensional grid negotiating


an idea

receding into indefinite rain,

or else that idea

emerging, skeletal

against the hammered sky, a

human thing, scoured seen clean

through from here to an iron heaven.

A place where things

were said and done,

there you can remember

what you need to

remember.  Melancholy is useful.  Bring yours.

There are no neighbors to wonder

who you are,

what you might me doing

walking there,

stopping now and then

to touch a crumbling brick

or stand in a doorway

framed by the day.

No one has to know you

thing of another doorway

that framed the rain or news of war

depending on which way you faced.

You think of sea-roads and earth-roads

you traveled once, and always

in the same direction:  away.

You think

of a woman, a favorite

dress, your old father's breasts

the last time you saw him, his breath,

brief, the leaf

you've torn from a vine and which you hold now

to your cheek like a train ticket

or a piece of cloth, a little hand or a blade -

it all depends

on the course of your memory.

It's a place

for those who own no place

to correspond to ruins in the soul.

It's mine.

It's all yours.


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