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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