Ron Houchin

Purpose of Darkness

Our breath rises out of us, air 
through the sheet of a ghost. It drifts 
over the silver ribbon of river as if 
it has some place else to be. The sparrows, 

the starlings, the early robins asleep 
in the wires of wide hedges and bars 
of tall bushes shiver their feathers 
as if a ghost were passing. In the flutter 

of trees, dreams are waking. Cats and owls 
sit watching like spirits of the murdered 
for some sign the weather is about them.  
Snow slides down a mountain as a pillow 

falls from bunk to floor. A white curtain 
opens in the valley, one dreamt of almost 
every night. The curtain is more snow, 
and the snow is the opening to other dreams, 

dreams of snow falling through night— 
one dream is of light defining darkness 
that has little-to-nothing to do with us.
The universe walks the ward of its own.


Ron Houchin does much of his writing from his home on the banks of the Ohio River at the southernmost tip of Ohio, across the river from his hometown of Huntington, West Virginia. For thirty years he taught in a public high school in the Appalachian region of the Ohio Valley. He has seven books of poetry and one of short stories published, including The Man Who Saws Us in Half from LSU Press’s Southern Messenger Series, and the forthcoming Planet of the Best Love Songs  from Salmon Publishing of Ireland. His feature for “Still Life” recently appeared in our pages.


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