Doug Ramspeck: “Map of the World”


Last night you returned to me
in a dispatch of wind, a febrile rain.

And today a contusion of starlings
lifts from the field where two deer

bow their heads in supplication.
This must be the old heart of it,

the silentium where the dead go
when we are dreaming. I remember

a trip we took one August when newly
married, dust lifting across the road

as though to form a human shape.
We stayed in a cabin by a congealing

lake that seemed, each night,
like the blown pupil of an eye.

The lodge’s owner, we were told,
had a son who was dying

at the hospital of leukemia.
By day we went swimming

in the brackish waters, and you told me
you were praying for the boy

we did not know, that the prayers
were like the leaves floating around

us in the shallows, or the four blind,
pink field mice we found one evening

nestled in the open grass,
or the miscarriage of moon

rising above the woods each night.
Now, today, the years seem sewn

shut and so forgotten. But tonight
I will leave on the light on the back porch,

leave the years to their own devices.
Come here, moonlight, I will think,

and sit with me. And we will dream
of a wind rising in the old fields,

the weight of it rustling through leaves
that are not ghosts but want to be.

Doug Ramspeck is the author of five poetry collections. His most recent book, Original Bodies, was selected for the Michael Waters Poetry Prize and is published by Southern Indiana Review Press. Two earlier books also received awards: Mechanical Fireflies (Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize), and Black Tupelo Country (John Ciardi Prize). Individual poems have appeared in journals that include Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Slate, and Georgia Review. A two-time recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, Ramspeck is an associate professor at The Ohio State University at Lima.

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