Doug Ramspeck: "October Snow"


As if the moon resisted—

         or could. As if all resistance


is mud, soggy from an evening’s

         snow, gathering shadows


in a field and hoarding them.

         Or what of the darkness


waiting dully in the trees,

         as deliberate as a mother 


slowly, slowly

         disengaging a child


from her breast? Surely the infant

         will awaken and cry out,


a small oracle of loss.

         But the snow comes down


and the child sleeps, the one

         and the next,


the next and the other. Or say

         the moon has disguised itself


behind the low-slung clouds,

         or there’s a black snake curled


beneath the back porch,

         its practiced tongue testing


the bitter air, its head a clenched

         fist. Surely a snake watches


snow the way an infant falls

         asleep against a breast,


the way these fugitive shapes

         of darkness are coalescing


in the field. Imagine sawing

         down a dying tree


to find, inside an open space,

         a lair. What else is there


but this? Or the falling

         snow that is as pale as a milk


bubble, as pale as insect larvae.

         And the snake, come warmer weather,


emerging from the porch, muscling its way

         toward the field, its dark body


whipping and angling across

         the resistance of mud.



Doug Ramspeck's poetry collection, Black Tupelo Country, was awarded the 2007 John Ciardi Prize for Poetry and was published in 2008 by BkMk. His poems have appeared in West Branch, Rattle, Confrontation Magazine, Connecticut Review, Nimrod, Hunger Mountain, and Hayden's Ferry Review. He directs the Writing Center and teaches creative writing and composition at The Ohio State University at Lima.