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Author: Ruth Goring
Location: Chicago, Illinois

diamond icon Ruth Goring grew up in Colombia and now lives in Chicago, where she participates in several poetry workshops, gives occasional readings, works an editor at a major university press, and codirects Across the Americas. Her 2004 poetry collection is Yellow Doors, and her work has been featured recently in Out of Line, Avocet, Conte, The Externalist, Dos Passos Review, and other journals. She is currently assembling a book of poems rooted in Colombia's long-running civil war.



That last week at home I chewed
inside my cheek—salt stung
almost unbearably.

Once here, I wore a coat
every day for months,
sticking my arms into puffs
of pillowed fabric and moving
down cold streets, detached
as the Virgin of Las Lajas.

My dreams are still full
of ants and wasps,
country buses with rice bags
and chickens and room for one more
perspiring human. Helicopters,
girls waving white towels.
I always visit the same office
crowded with certificates:
an oily man says all is well,
we have put down the disturbance.

My welcomers found a car for me.
They do not remember
that in my country gravel
under the pipeline is mixed
with shards of human bone.

I wore a smile for six months
but now sometimes my skin collapses.
The consul is collecting names.

There is a miner in my brain
prodding deep strata with a pick.
My mother's forearm
emerges like a vein of coal,
steady and dark, resting after laundry,
held against her stomach. I twist
myself in her skirts.

Asilo means refuge
but in my new language it is asylum. In the grocery I am watched–
I might steal some raisins
or a ham.

At times I crave
the burning of salt,
the harshness of its healing.
Green plantains sliced
into gold coins, fried.
Popcorn in a dark theater
where no one will see me weep.

ISSN 1941-0441

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