Hourglass

by Doug Ramspeck

When Father stepped into the dark hall
then disappeared,

I think the washed corpse of moon was buried in the sky.

Someone dreamed the horses
by the fence. Someone walked into the deep woods where

coins of rain slipped and stained the body. We watched
for familiar signs in the erratic wings of moths, in the

native tongues of jays beside the river.

A square of light filled the hole in the belly of a tree.
I reached in and felt the entrails.

I reached in and believed this was the hourglass of memory.

Someone turned it on the head. Someone drained the time
till there was nothing.

Dreams pitched and listed where we lay
in the grass in the back yard. The bristle

of Father’s beard was rough with asters
when the sky fell to black around us. The raft

of sleep grew larger. I was afraid of the burning

door in my dreams opening and closing
into ash. I was afraid of the tree sap

that clung to the flesh when I rested my cheek against the bark.

Once Father wrote his name
in train tracks and their straight

line into the distance. Once the fabric tore
and I wept dirt beside my brother,

who threw a stone into the water
of whatever sky it was

that we’d forgotten.

 

Doug Ramspeck is the author of five poetry collections. His most recent book, Original Bodies, was selected for the Michael Waters Poetry Prize and is forthcoming by Southern Indiana Review Press. 

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