Under Black Leaves

Title: Under Black Leaves
Published by: Etchings Press (University of Indianapolis)
Release Date: 2020
Pages: 162
ISBN13: 978-1-0878-8925-2
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In his novella Under Black Leaves, Midwest author Doug Ramspeck delves into mental health, the interplay between love and loss, and the arts through the eyes of an art professor (Luke) and a Dance major (Hannah). Memories flood Professor Luke Horn as he returns to the Chicago College of the Arts campus for the new semester. After losing a charismatic student, Luke wonders if he should confess what he knows or keep it hidden. He quickly learns that you can’t always hide your past. When the sister of the late student registers for his design and color class, will he be able to keep his composure and his secret?


I confess. I confess to everything. This is my confession.

 Even now, so long after, I wake nights with the same thoughts. They exist in the way a chair does, a window. Maybe it is dark in the room or a disk of moon appears between the faintly opened curtains, a strange cyst embedded in the clouds. It’s as though I am forming a letter in my mind. Dear Hannah. I picture you sitting on the edge of the bed or coming toward me in jeans and a T-shirt, the dark ink of your hair extending to your waist. Or I dream of you posing again, perhaps a variation on Baigneuse Allongèe sur le Sol. You are naked before the tub, a white towel spread beneath you. Your right arm is bent at the elbow, steadying you on your side. Palms twisted and upright, a little crucifixion. I envision separate versions of this pose superimposed one atop the next, branching out like the petals of a flower.