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Visible Breath
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Visible Breath

These dead leaves are hypnotized by snow.She watches from the window, seesnumb fires of clouds becoming black stains,oracles of birds. She imagines beforeand after, as though they are as tactileas the greenhouse where, by day, lightsweats and short-sighted winter losesitself in fevered loam. She was with himthen alone. The varicose veins of daysmeander beneath the skin, this sermonof stars when she is sleeping, this breathshe holds in abeyance in her lungs,all the earth a sustenance of deadgrass and drifts against the fence,sleeping the way a pickup on the highwayspins its pirouette on ice before comingto a graceful stop beside a bar ditch. He touchedher arm then walked away. In dreams there isa vortex of weeds at the yard’s edge,and snow falls from an invisible mask,as far away as a small confessionalof geese, the retreating V boundto the earth and yet escaping it.Once he seemed as familiar as a redsun in a gray lake. Now he is stoneand smoke and hemorrhaging clouds. [End Page 27]

Doug Ramspeck

Doug Ramspeck is the author of five poetry collections. His most recent book, Original Bodies, was selected for the Michael Waters Poetry Prize and is forthcoming by Southern Indiana Review Press. Two earlier books also received awards: Mechanical Fireflies (Barrow Street Press Prize), and Black Tupelo Country (John Ciardi Prize). Individual poems have appeared in journals that include Kenyon Review, Slate, Southern Review, Georgia Review, AGNI, and Alaska Quarterly Review. He directs the Writing Center and teaches creative writing at The Ohio State University at Lima.