Bea Garth © 2015 All Rights Reserved
In dreams she is forever in our backyard,
her arms outstretched, the black veils of birds
swirling around her. The aluminum tins
are filled with meat scraps or peanuts
or cooked beans, and the crows
are a dark territory, as primitive
as the blood moon I see at dusk impaled
amid the willows by the river.
From my bedroom window, I watch
the way the birds stitch the sky,
how my mother grows old in their midst
then finally dies, is carried off
by invisible wings that stir the air.
In those days my mother and I knelt
often with her parents in the garden,
weeding, or we studied a grackle
perching on a fence post in the rain,
or we gazed at a bent tree at the edge
of the woods, lifting crucified and skeletal,
piercing the viscous, melancholy sky.
I believed there was a tide of moon inside
our chests, and my grandfather spoke often
of being restless in the night, and he showed me
the wasps coming and going from their nests
beneath the eaves, rowing the bodyís primitive
boat, and he fed carrots to the horses
by the fence, scattered seeds for the juncos
in the winter. Once I found the remains
of a raccoon frozen into an ice sculpture
not far from the barn. The creature was
mad with death, forgetful. And I dreamed
that night of a snake that lost its skin,
of the hollow sleeve in a rotting log.
Then, come summer, there was something
clerical in rising in gray light to step out
onto the patio, something in my grandmotherís
pendulous plums by the back door,
almost but not quite ripe, the orioles
leaving the gnawed fruit to dangle.
It was as if there was an earth
that came before, that plunged
its needle deep into a vein we couldnít
see, that made of the years
an unknown object of desire.
Doug Ramspeck is the author of five poetry collections. His most recent book, Original Bodies (2014), was selected for the Michael Waters Poetry Prize and is published by Southern Indiana Review Press.
Table of Contents Next Poem Guidelines