Doug Ramspeck October 2021 First Prize

Snow Crow

by Doug Ramspeck

And the days were made of auguries. And the cricket calls arrived disembodied from the field. And a dead mole lay on its back by the garage, gathering its thin blanket of ants. And wasps hummed outside the boy’s window like primitive wraiths. And one morning, he found a dead crow in the woods and carried it back to the house, hiding it at the back of his closet like a reliquary. And sometimes he imagined the creature calling to him in the night, calling to him in his dreams, and the boy would rise, pull the string for the closet light, and open the cardboard box. And there was the crow: its dark wings motionless, its dark and lacquered eyes gazing up at him. And sometimes in the mornings, the boy stepped into the backyard and gazed at the sun with its raw, sepulchral eye. And at breakfast, now and then, he asked about his father. And his mother would cross her arms over her chest or set his plate so forcefully on the table that the boy would look away. And some afternoons, he sat in his closet and imagined the crow lifting itself on the dark oars of its wings, rowing high above the trees. Or the boy imagined a crow call fissuring the air, a crow call that was both corporeal and incorporeal at once. And the smell in the boy’s closet was like something secretive congealing on the surface of a pond. And on the evening when a first light snow of the season came dropping toward the land, the boy carried the crow back into the woods and tossed it as high as he could manage into the air.

About the Author

Doug Ramspeck is the author of eight collections of poetry, one collection of short stories, and a novella. His most recent poetry collection, Book of Years (2021), is published by Cloudbank Books. Individual stories have appeared in Iowa Review, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Narrative Magazine, and many other literary journals. His short story “Balloon” was listed as a Distinguished Story for 2018 in The Best American Short Stories. A retired professor from The Ohio State University, he lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina, United States. His author website can be found at and you can also find him on Facebook

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