We didn’t go back for a long while,

but when we saw the old house


and the field behind the yard

bathed in a skein of dusk light,


the clouds siphoning anemic

blood into their bellies, and we heard


the hidden birds dreaming their calls

into spirals of nearly-living shapes,


and counted seven sentinels of vultures

perched in a white-oak’s limbs,


the years behind us strewn

like fish bones, I began remembering


a neighbor’s horse that got past

the fence one evening and was standing


beneath our apple tree, struggling to reach

the fruit in weak-willed light, and how,


as the moon rose, I used a stepladder to snare

one bright globe from a sagging limb,


and while you went to fetch the neighbors,

I offered the gift atop my palm.



Doug Ramspeck is the author of six poetry collections and one collection of short stories. His  most recent book, Black Flowers (2018), is published by LSU Press. Four books have received awards: The Owl That Carries Us Away (G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction), Original Bodies (Michael Waters Poetry Prize), Mechanical Fireflies (Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize), and Black Tupelo Country (John Ciardi Prize for Poetry). Individual poems have appeared in journals that include Southern Review, Kenyon Review, Slate, and Georgia Review. An associate professor at The Ohio State University at Lima, Ramspeck teaches creative writing.

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