» Poetry

Long Marriage (Parable of the Skull)

Over years we lifted it sometimes
from its cardboard box, studying


the fifty teeth and gazing into the open
eye sockets, this possum skull we found


in our sixth year, half-buried in the dirt
behind the rental house. For decades, then,


we moved it everywhere we went,
and always it lay quietly, as patient as dirt,


and only now and then did I imagine it
dreaming that skin formed once more around


its body—the moon face and moon tail—
so it might waddle again along the river.



This poem was originally published in The Florida Review (43.2, Fall 2019) and was a runner-up in the Humboldt Poetry Prize.


Doug Ramspeck

Doug Ramspeck is the author of seven collections of poetry, one collection of short stories, and a novella. One recent book, Black Flowers, is published by LSU Press and was a finalist for the UNT Rilke Prize. Individual poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, Slate, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, and many other literary journals. His short story “Balloon” was listed as a Distinguished Story for 2018 in The Best American Short Stories. He is a three-time recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award.