Today's poem is by Doug Ramspeck

The Human Velocity

When, last August, our neighbor 's house burned down,
and smoke drifted its dark figure to suffocate the line

of field where the river bent between our houses,
it was easy to imagine deer watching ghostly

from the tree line, mud watching from the tufts
of grass, the sky watching from its inhuman distance.

Here was the makeshift body, the loam and sluggish
current of our lives, a blossoming like birds collecting

their dim gray in a dusk sky. And since we live in a circuitry
of shadows, in mud and the black cloth of the river

after dark, in these burning days of summer, we have
nothing more to call ourselves, no name sounding right

on the tongue, the moon a mute reliquary above our houses,
the grass asleep beneath the half-blind stars. Our neighbors

stayed with us for two weeks, and from our back windows
they could hear the birds calling from the willows,

could see the skeletal remains across the river.
It is easy to grow afraid of the sky, its eyelid

with its darkening ink. And when, come winter, snow
falls out of it, snow and its layers of pale linen,

we imagine this as the mute tongue enclosed in
its tomb of hardened mud. Sometimes, I know,

my neighbors heard the wind speaking against
their back screen door spared by the flames,

sounding like something living clawing for
a last breath—the way an owl calls from its high tree,

feeling the wind roaring from the fields.

Copyright © 2015 Doug Ramspeck All rights reserved
from Original Bodies
Southern Indiana Review Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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