- Feast and Famine
Even after remarrying, my father left in my mother’s basement
a stuffed owl and his Civil War books.
The owl had glass eyes, and the dusty books contained bloody illustrations of soldiers.
I was nine that winter, and I touched my fingers to the red smudges
on the page, watched out the upstairs windows the white frock of snow covering everything,
watched the juncos and finches flutter for position at my mother’s feeder.
In the basement was my father’s rolled-up print of The Old Guitarist,
and once I saw my mother spread it out on the concrete floor, study the long
fingers with their weary occultations, the bent blue neck with its sorrowful beauty.
Then it was summer, and at night I spotted teenage lovers carrying their blankets [End Page 68]
through the backyard, heading down to the river’s edge.
The moon spoke to the grass in its salt voice.
And one night I dreamed I heard the owl crying through the floorboards,
imagined it was a stone figure or obelisk. Then, in the vision, the owl lifted itself
from the mud and desiccated grass,
became a dark stain moving through the woods and toward the river,
brushing the naked branches going past. [End Page 69]
doug ramspeck is the author of four poetry books. His most recent collection, Original Bodies, was selected for the Michael Waters Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Slate, and The Georgia Review. An associate professor, he teaches creative writing and directs the Writing Center at The Ohio State University at Lima.