Four Poems by William Doreski
February 15, 2023
Drowned Man Surfacing
Nothing timeless about the smirk of the lake this morning, sunlight bristling on the grainy slick. Thanksgiving’s past. Leafless, debriefed deciduous trees breast the wind. Old favors forgotten, the lake has surrendered its ducks and geese. People sporting orange walk their dogs with a rhythm too jagged to render in prose. You expect me to photograph this scene in harsh digital color and numb our friends with emails depicting our casual routines. But isn’t that a corpse floating in the sunstruck part of the lake? Maybe it’s a mote in the eye of the universe. But marbled and tough as Huck and Jim’s raft it drifts along the furthest edge of my vision and mocks real life. You don’t see it? Blink away the tears you shed for the planet and look where the depth meets the sparkle of November gloss. You still don’t see it? Maybe a feint of dread has fooled me. That happens. Let’s drive on and if some dog walker reports a drowned man surfacing then the landscape will equilibrate with a shudder mournful enough to include everyone who cares.
Loons Scouting on the Windy Lake
Only lightly crosshatched in, this day seems tentative. Maybe we should stay home and pray to forces we don’t want to understand. But we must deliver ourselves to the post office, grocery store, coffee shop, bookstore. We must, by law, interact with people whose politics grit like the teeth of the recently dead. The cold of this shopping day graces the streets at such steep angles that some people will fall off the world, gyrating into vacuums blushing with dark matter no one knows enough physics to analyze. Let’s try not to be those people. Let’s honor whatever distance needs honoring, then process our errands without sentiments dangling on the tips of our tongues. The famous critic lurking in her modest apartment expects cheap emotion to prevail. Let’s disappoint her. Don’t touch any gravestones, no matter how desperate the carven names look. Don’t fuss over woolen toddlers. Don’t deploy popular music in service of popular clichés. And don’t try to count the loons scouting on the windy lake their chicks trailing behind them like punctuation trailing off to close a desperate statement.
An Anodized Length of Steel
The woodstove grins. The dark peels away. Staggers of pine duel with pink and blue clouds. You worry that our cats resent medications that extend their lives. You worry that grim politicians calculate their vote so crudely they dismiss the great majority, writing off our citizenship. Today the candor of rain will ease your holiday funk and wind will ruffle textures while flushing sin from the sky. Not to invoke the religion we discarded in wayward youth but to affix a useful candor where it might do a little good. I dreamed that an anodized length of steel erupted from the earth and soared miles into other spheres. This link forged between elements trembled like a bowstring. Touching it set my ego shivering. A threat to aircraft, this long streak of metal seemed projected from the mass of secrets we’ve never shared. But like all dreams it imploded into a muck of psychic residue. Let’s feed the cats, brew coffee, and render ourselves three or four dimensional again, leaving that hint of religion fuming in the dark we’ve finished shedding.
Florida Mystery Object
Either washed up on the beach by yesterday’s arrogant storm or exposed by erosion, this structure suggests the rib cage of a creature extinct for eons. Step inside. The play of light across these wooden slats casts We could co-author a treatise on this prehistoric construction. The smooth of Daytona Beach seems to flow forever. The blue of the Atlantic looks Homeric. The wreckage of whatever this was is drying gray into driftwood. We must settle on a legend before beachcombers wrench it piece by piece from the sand. We must transcribe the epic before subject quarrels fatally with verb. The day perfects itself as only a luscious Florida day can. Half-fossilized, the toothy slats loom. The runes burn archaic phrases into the sand. We can’t read them, but the sea lathering and stropping its fore edge will soon erase them. So we’d better start taking notes even if they read like scripture that confirms our lives of sin.
About William Doreski
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Dogs Don’t Care (2022). His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have been published in various journals.