- Dust Day
Here is the shape of a bird,its geometries of movement
that seem no more significantthan a dust devil swirling past a willow.
There are always these questionsof equivalences: is the mud in the field
the same basic substance as the clouds,the same as the air inside the lungs?
At twenty-two I was on my ownfor the first time, the apartment’s
back window looking out on an open field,the front to dark cars and dark clothes
and a ceaseless gathering of mourners.I sat evenings on the bed and wrote to you
about feeling like the discarded skinof a snake left as an empty bracelet
on the grass. And each time I glanced outone window there was gray smoke lifting from
the funeral home crematorium,out the other a freight of gray clouds
drifting above the distant river.Is the smoke of the body the same
as the entrails of a catfish,as the sound of a hearse lumbering [End Page 146]
its complaint along a road?Once I watched a hawk swoop low to the grass,
reach down the hook of its talons,lift from the field a snake.
The writhing creature must have been amazed:finally the world was giving way beneath it.
And the last time you visited you lefta pair of sandals
I later perched as a reliquaryon the window sill.
I wrote from my bedthat we are complicit in dust, are the dark
wings of the distant birds, the driftingoutlines of a life.
And what if our handsare the discarded skin of a snake?
To love like that, to wear the emptinessof the bracelet all around us. [End Page 147]
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 from Southern Indiana Review Press. Two earlier books also received awards: Mechanical Fireflies (the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize), and Black Tupelo Country (the John Ciardi Prize). Individual poems have appeared in journals including the Kenyon Review, Slate, the Southern Review, the Georgia Review, Agni, and Alaska Quarterly Review. He directs the Writing Center and teaches creative writing at The Ohio State University at Lima.