Welcome, blog readers, to another installment of Pick-a-Poem! Each week we feature a new poet and their work here on the blog. We find these new poems through Poetry Daily, which is a great site to check out if you want a daily dose of poetry. This week we feature Girl Reading the Aeneid on the Subway by Ann Lauinger.
According to her page on Poetry Daily, Ann Lauinger has written two books of poetry, Persuasions of Fall (2004) — winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize — and Against Butterflies (2013). Her work has recently appeared in Common Ground Review, Spillway, and the anthology A Slant of Light: Contemporary Women Writers of the Hudson Valley. She is a member of the literature faculty at Sarah Lawrence College.
Girl Reading the Aeneid on the Subway by Ann Lauinger
What she makes of all that myth and destiny
Is anybody’s guess. Other towers
For other times. Of course it’s also ours,
The ten-years’ war, but she’s too young for history.
Poor Aeneas, predestined to succeed
And mean to Dido, gets no sympathy
From most her age. Yet, brushing absently
Her pale hair from light eyes, she seems to read
Intently, concentrating from her perch,
A sunlit bird oblivious to this grotto
Of sibylline scraps, of earbuds’ rhythmic sotto
Voce boom, of medicated lurch.
What’s at our backs, the weight by which we’re driven,
Unhinges us—the great ones more than most,
Who know, though desert-bleached and tempest-tossed,
That to be great is not to be forgiven.
Not that it’s safer or saner to be small.
Look at us, jolted down tracks in loveless tandem,
The endless ride to inquietude, our random
Days without distinction, nights in free fall.
She rises, marks her place with a neat, white square
And zips in her bag the journeys and the wars.
I glimpse her rising still beyond shut doors,
Fate dangling from a strap, to meet the upper air.
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