Morning of the Fictive Funeral
by Doug Ramspeck


It was Zeno who said that the goal of life

     is to live in agreement with nature,

but I have never understood how to take a single step

     beyond the syllable. It sits there before you

like a great root. The tongue grows weary of it.

     I know this because the woods are still this morning,

like someone has taken them down from an old shelf,

     has dusted them off, and has left them

like a child's plaything in the back yard. I want to walk

     amid the loblolly pines and the blackjack oaks

and so become them, but that's not how it works,

     and everybody knows it. Mostly you just end up arguing

with your wife or your child or yourself while looking out

     the window at the distant woods. If something is

going to get up off its sorry ass and actually get around

     to walking into those blasted trees, it will just be

another phoneme. But even the spent word is fictive, of course.

     It slithers out of the great river, trembles a little

in the baking sun, and dies. Which is why I know to knot

     my tie so carefully at my throat. I suppose I could say

we were bickering a little this morning while getting ready

     to head off to the funeral. That would give everything

a little arc on which to hang a few consonants and vowels.

     But the slash pines and the hawthorns won't hear of it.

They aren't much interested in storytelling. They aren't even

     interested in my agreement. I can tell by the way

they don't see the need to ponder me on this side

     of the window. It was Wallace Stevens who said

that we must have the mind of winter to regard the frost

     and the boughs, but all I've ever needed

was to stand there, the glass in between us, and a tongue.


Please send us your comments, including the name of the work you are commenting on.

Don't want to miss out? Contact us and we'll send you an e-mail message announcing each new issue. (Be sure to see our Privacy Policy.)

Copyright © 1999-2008 by Amarillo Bay. All rights reserved.
Individual works are copyrighted by their authors.