Issue > Poetry
Doug Ramspeck

Doug Ramspeck

Doug Ramspeck is the author of six poetry collections and one collection of short stories. His most recent book, Black Flowers, is forthcoming from LSU Press in 2018. Individual poems have appeared in journals that include The Southern Review, The Kenyon Review, Slate and The Georgia Review.

Divining the Mountain

For years I have studied the ebbtide of evening
drifting along the distant ridge. And little changes

on the mountain except the spells of rain
and sun and mist and snow. And it seems possible

to dream the slow pirouette of seasons, the sacred
freight of years. One summer a neighbor girl

was struck by a school bus along the mountain's base
and died. And two springs later my wife had her

miscarriage, the cortex of stars appearing like so many
bees humming above the mountain's hive. The road

beyond our house is often overrun with weeds, and we
see teenagers come summer lying on their blankets

by the river. The sky beyond the mountain plants
the bulbs of longing deep, and the clouds at dusk

appear like bits of burning leaves shriveling at their edges.
And after the rains each year, the sky is a secret room.

We come from alluvium, I believe, and listen
to how the canopy of trees has its conversations

with the wind. Let us be carried now, I sometimes think.
Let the cadence-moon lie down. And my wife and I walk

sometimes along the bottom of the mountain.
It seems there are holes in the hours, what slips

through. And if it is night, we speak of the wafer-thin
starlight on the ridge. And we recall the leech that once

affixed itself to the soft of my wife's ankle when we
waded in the river. And the blood of dawn when

we walk in early light is always rapture. And one
morning we come across a cluster of trillium

not far from the river's bank, the white mouths
open as though to swallow ghosts.


I believed, then, that the lovers were the dark waters

of the river, the skin of moonlight

staining the summer leaves. And always

there was the loneliness of floating, the clouds

on their conveyor belts, the ridge of mountain

disembodied beyond the raised road. It seemed

there was something metaphysical in the salt of the skin,

in arms and legs that longed to be a ship or a raft.

In one dream the river opened, finally, into black sea,

and the lovers began swimming out toward

the lip of the world. Each arm stroke

splashed into prayer. Each kick was a new world.

And the stars drifted perched upon the waves.


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