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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