January 3, 2015

Doug Ramspeck


And in Turner’s Sun Rising
through Vapour:

Fishermen Cleaning
and Selling Fish,

the eye moves
without fail

from the clutter
of the human—

this compact labor—
to the sprawling

whorls and smudges
and smears

of primitive sky.
Once as a child

in Wisconsin, I handed
grape soda to a bear

on a chain, and the smell
of the animal body

was as familiar as the grass
I mowed each summer

up and down our yard’s hill,
watching, as I did,

an older girl two houses over
who sunbathed daily

on a towel, and died—
I later learned—

when a train struck
a car at a railroad crossing

in distant Colorado.
And although

we’d never spoken,
I grieved for weeks,

believing I’d known
her once the way a bear

lifts a soda bottle
in its paws, and sunlight

can’t quite tell itself
from morning clouds.

from Rattle #44, Summer 2014


Doug Ramspeck: “If we count reading and writing fiction and poetry, watching films, attending plays, listening to music lyrics, fantasizing, dreaming while asleep, and lying, we spend a surprisingly significant portion of our lives engaged with stories. I write poetry, I think, to join that human, storytelling chorus.”