It might have been a gristmill, a dilapidated granary, or grange
I first drove by some sixty years ago
and, with my little eye, espied
through a doorframe the tousled ferns
and red-haired dockens
of kids my own age sent out to play in the snow,
their snowballs
so specific in the sprawl.
Windowless now, roofless, tucked

under the first, sheltering hill of a range
that ran all the way to Mexico—
a country into which we still hoped to ride
hell-for-leather, still hoped to adjourn
after the stickup—this ruin betokens
not only the slo-mo-
mowing of a meadow for a shopping mall
but the fate that would befall
the many tagged and retagged

over those sixty years. The landscape is so marked by change,
the bungled peace process, the shoddy bungalows,
the wind farms taking us in their stride,
so marked by all the turns
things have indeed taken
for kids now summoned back from playing in the snow,
the nettles almost as tall
as its dividing wall,
a ruin seems the only thing intact.


"A Ruin" from HOWDIE-SKELP by Paul Muldoon. Copyright © 2021 by Paul Muldoon. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All Rights Reserved.