by Doug Ramspeck


For seven years he has been waiting.

     The moon bleeds its otherworldly glow

against the tupelos. The silence of the river

     is punctuated by the silence of the sky.

Something is forever feeding: the water moccasin

     dropping from the low-slung limb,

the anhinga swimming with just its snake-like head

     above the water, the river muscling

past the cypress trees beyond the oxbow lake.

     In his dream the lake is attempting to join

its body to the river's: something unspools

     itself and washes away, something blooms

and flourishes and then expires. One morning

     an entire flock of egrets and cormorants

and herons lifts above the sweetgum trees

     like shimmering longing, like knives piercing

the sky to find their way deep into the entrails.

     He would read the future if he knew how,

but the swamp burns as choking heat, and the dark

     narration of the hours crawls ahead. Some days

the sky is swollen with rain, swollen as the dugs

     of the low-slung clouds. He leans

against the wooden railing of the back porch.

     What else is there to do? Hour after hour

he hears the water dripping from the leaves.


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