Ira Joel Haber  © 2006 All Rights Reserved

Ritual Cloud Line

August Sunday. Pale smoke rising from the burning
tupelo stump. Unrolling premonition
                                                     beneath the cloud line.
When all at once my younger brother, Raymond, steps
beside me on the front porch. His hands propped
                                                          in his pockets.
And both of us simply stand there,
                                                             watching.
More than twelve hours have elapsed
since we first drilled the holes. Since our father dropped in the
                                                             saltpeter.
Since we lit the fire and watched the smoke begin to
                                                                drift
like a dark divination above the bottomlands.

And whatever it is we imagine is smoldering there
inside the stump, transmogrifying
                                                       to smoke and ash,
seeping like some dark
                                                               augury
into the sky, we’ve always known that it would find us.
If not here then in the hoot owl’s cry.  In the snake-twitch
                                                          of the tall grass.


In the amanitas or spectral moon-glow                                               
                                                             at midnight.
In the ritual cloud lines of bottom-heavy storms.
In the human
                                                             paroxysm.
In the future pirouetting on the fang’s edge
or root-ravaged in the loam.

All pouring from a burning
                                                           tupelo stump.

Doug Ramspeck
Copyright © 2006

 

DOUG RAMSPECK’s poems have been published or are forthcoming by more than one hundred journals that include West Branch, Rattle, Confrontation Magazine, Connecticut Review, Nimrod, RHINO, the Cream City Review, and Seneca Review. He directs the Writing Center and teaches creative writing and composition at the Ohio State University at Lima. He lives in Lima with his wife, Beth, and their sixteen-year-old daughter, Lee.


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