Field Numerology

by Doug Ramspeck

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.