It is easy to imagine that nights
are scavengers and the glass eye

of the moon forgets. As though
to lie with our backs on the lawn

is the first prayer. Something is an eddy
in the chest, some liquid vortex

of memory riding the barges of the stars
across the dark sea. My brother and I

would pretend as boys when we fell
in a heap that some imagined sword

or grenade had claimed us, that we were
no more alive in that instant than

the deadheads of dandelions lining
the road. Death, at those moments,

was a sacred abeyance, was the dust
that lifted from the fields in dry weather,

attempting to form a living shape
before disappearing. When our father died,

I imagined him flying away with the crows
or existing in the rain that battered

the roof late at night when I couldn’t sleep.
As though every memory was a lawnmower

pushed up and down the same hill,
the smell of cut grass in stewing heat.



Doug Ramspeck is the author of nine poetry collections, one collection of short stories, and a novella. One recent book, Black Flowers, is published by LSU Press. Various books have received awards: Blur (Tenth Gate Prize), Distant Fires (Grayson Books Poetry Prize), 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.

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