Doug Ramspeck: “Old World Prayers”


I dream we are together—
the way we were—the geese

moving out above
the open land, both of us

marveling at how the V
presses the sharpness

of its blade into the clouds.
And maybe, somehow,

we are once more newly lovers,
riding on the raft of our bed,

and out the window
the moon dreams the bluing

of the land, and the bats
have hinged wings.

Come winter, we know,
the snow will make a gravity

of white, and everywhere ice
will cling like skin, but for now

we make a skylight of hands
and mouths. And because all snow

is desire and ash, we pull our coats
tighter each winter, pleased by

the smoke we see drifting bodily
from neighborhood chimneys,

our gloved hands buried
in our pockets. And now, today,

there is a scaffolding
of winter trees beyond

the house, a hollow log
bleeding wood salt at its center,

and a wind that moves across
a carapace of hardened snow.

And everywhere the long fingers
of the clouds cleave low

to the land, where the nomad
hours slip one into the next.

And the snowbanks huddle
into prayers along the fence:

prayers of thanksgiving
and worship and consecration.

And still the air is alive with it,
and still the snow falls.

Doug Ramspeck is the author of six poetry collections and one collection of short stories. His most recent book, Naming the Field, is forthcoming from LSU Press. Ramspeck has had poems appear in numerous journals, including Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Slate, and Georgia Review. He is an associate professor at The Ohio State University at Lima.

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