Nomads

Doug Ramspeck

Every time I walk here
with this black ground
beneath me and the old hills
with their bald backs
and the skyways of dust
on the ancient road up to the cemetery
with the moon at night that is a cracked
shell of sky, I think of doorways
opening into caverns and root cellars
and mouths in trees and doorways
inside of years where it seems
that a life is the paleness behind
the closed lid of any eye,
or the door where lovers shut
themselves away or one where
they cry out what might be prayers
or might be crows, and doors of history
and of rivers, and the messengers
of now and now like the old men along
the river bank and the door where
their bobbers float, while some doors
are shadows or breaths or an oracle
of evening light or the kind of fire
that burns itself into such smoke
it billows up into a door,
and the pond like a door where
the neighbor boy drowned,
and the door of weeks becoming
years then decades, and then there are bats
that make of a backyard
so many dark handkerchiefs
of doors, and soon there is a door
of plenty and a door of forgetfulness,
and only then do I realize it is possible
to fall into the pit of it,
and the door of ashes
you hold like something dissolving
in a palm, and the door
like a struck match
or a word that clings
to a tongue and will not fall,
or the door that is the grasslands
where the first nomadic humans
are walking and walking, and we
are waiting for it to open into us.

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