Doug Ramspeck: “Cemetery Grass”


After he is gone, she imagines that her husband
still exists as an asthma of wind seeping

through the window jamb in winter. Or sometimes
she pretends she sees his footsteps leading down

to the barn, secrets trailing out across the snow.
And when she sleeps, she dreams that breaths

are broken vessels, that years are stripped clean
of any flesh. Her husband, now, is that line

where field and sky blur. This is the life of the unmade
bed, of palms pressed against a windowsill. As a child

she imagined that the antidote to gravity was winter
breath, the way it lifted its buoyancy out of the body

then disappeared, leaving only sluggishness behind,
the weight of the hour. And now she exists as a scaffolding

of bones, an ache each morning as she crosses
to the window and imagines the whorled passage

of the day, the years curling inward on themselves.
And all the grasses of the world grow above the bones

of the dead, and the years turn to loam, the decades
as hard and unforgiving as winter soil.

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. Ramspeck is a professor of creative writing in The Ohio State University at Lima.

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