Life Story
by Doug Ramspeck


For a long time he imagined something murmuring
from the woods beyond the river, down amid
the black tupelos and possumhaw, hiding in the strange
alluvial richness of the bottomlands-the sagging smells,
the parasitic Spanish moss. And what was whispered
washed out amid the bladderwort and pickerelweed,
or flittled with the prothonotary warbler by the sweetgum tree.
And it seemed, then, that he only barely existed,
that the sound was like a last breath seeping from a dying
wood duck, or like the stillness of a cypress swamp at dusk.
He was nine when he first heard it, and then fourteen,
and then sixty. His wife had died and his children
had moved away. But still the sound persisted
half-submerged beneath the pondlily, and still he walked
each evening by the swamp edge and tried to hear it.


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