Today's poem is by Doug Ramspeck
The old men fishing at the river
believe their hearts are bruised.
Or sometimes they imagine
a certain wildness inside their
chests, a cabal of grackles making
an augury of shrouded wings.
At night they watch the moon's
dull lightpale as insect larvae
collecting on the skin of the earth.
The world becomes as illiterate
as loam. And this morning I watched
a turkey vulture pivot into its death
somersaultthe passing pickup
clipped it as it lifted into air from
the red raw of a dead raccoon.
And years ago following an ice storm.
I saw another vulture perching
where a large limb of a hickory
had broken off overnight,
leaving a great open wound.
as though the bird had been
trapped inside for many decades,
believing it was bark or stone.
And what the bird said was nothing.
Or soon it will be winter and the old men
will stop fishing in the river past
our fence, will watch. from
their own windows. snow falling
on the nervous horses in the field.
Is this what the earth demands?
The men will realize, perhaps,
how death is consensual.
And after I saw the vulture
atop the severed tree, I learned
that the woman in the green
house down the road
I knew her because our young
children were close friends
had died the previous day of
breast cancer. In my dream
that night a hundred or a
thousand birds began fleeing
from the opening in
the hickory, somersaulting
across the air, until
everywhere was dark stain.
Copyright © 2015 Doug Ramspeck All rights reserved
from The Carolina Quarterly
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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