High School Seems So Long Ago
The chatter of rain at dawn reminds me to live long enough to see my doctor at eleven for a booster against the plague. A jet plane gnashes overhead, aimed at Detroit and Chicago. I dreamt us back to high school with dim and dusty classrooms and teachers retired to the grave. You said we needn’t graduate because you’d invented something that would make us forever rich. We ran from school into the rain and Volkswagened across horizons that bent to accommodate our rush. In actual daylight I wonder if I begged in brazen colors would you drive me far enough from home to feel the winter fade in the slump and tangle of kudzu? The rain looks cold enough to scorch the tip of my tongue. You awaken to the same weather forty miles west where the river of rivers shoulders between eroded banks with a defiant gray expression. If the rain stops and I survive my shot, let’s meet for latte and parse my dream without laughing. High school seems so long ago. But geologic time has hardly registered those years, the dark we swallow every night too pale to compete with the underground where the earth’s rock mantle dreams more profoundly than me.
The Text of Reckoning
The death of summer occurs so gradually the pain spreads before anyone takes notice. Children lick sweating metal and savor the toxic effects. Dogs sniff the residue and exclaim. You worry that our shingled house will peel like overripe citrus, but I assure you that treefall will erase our greatest concerns. Saturday, Saturnalia. Doubt spreads through the coffee klatch, rigging all future elections. Someone asks me to read aloud from pages scattered in the park. No one believes they’re illegible. Most assume that terrible truths fester beneath the rough bark of hickory and under flat stones. Certain dark pages evaded cancellation, and now I’m tasked with reading them to the crowd. Will you help? I need to borrow a wheelbarrow load of words no one has ever defined. If you wield your garden spade with proper brio you’ll find them excreted by salamanders, the dark ones with yellow spots. The crowd gathers in Putnam Park. The black sky promises thunder to smelt my tiny voice and pour balm on a thousand abrasions. The ugliness is spreading fast. Hurry with that wheelbarrow. If I don’t survive this event you can use it to tote my carcass to the recycling center where all the miracles occur.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.