Nine crows in five days. And if there are six snakes, and one shucks its skin, becomes incorporeal, is the sky still forever with birds, these birds that map the grass with their black stains? And when the corn comes down, four field mice enter the house and hide behind the kitchen sink. Then come winter, one horse dies and waits for spring to be buried, mounded in a lump of white. It snows in our lungs, and driving down the road we see the flakes drifting like dust in air. Last winter the bridge was out for nineteen days, and the widower who hanged himself was spotted by seven children on a school bus. And then, this morning, there were spots of blood on two eggs, more beads sliding on the imagined abacus. Or now our monologue of moonlight makes of the field this arithmetic of grief. At dawn we count three deer at the field’s edge, two fissures in the window glass. And the crows count slowly with each call: one, two, three, four, five.

DOUG RAMSPECK is the author of four poetry collections. His most recent book, Mechanical Fireflies (2011), received the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize. His first book, Black Tupelo Country (2008), received the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry. His poems have been accepted by Slate, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, AGNI, and elswhere. The recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, he teaches creative writing and directs the Writing Center at The Ohio State University at Lima.