Three Poems by William Doreski

In an Egg

If only we lived in an egg
our dimensions would solidify
in glut of protein tough enough
to absorb the dark and prosper.
No, we’d never hatch. The depth
of our moods would flatter us

without the faintest expression.
Little moons would adorn the shell
to enlighten us in sheaves
of unmoored atoms. The beard
of Allen Ginsberg would recur
like Spanish moss and drape us

in comforting swirls and curls.
This little world would last us
longer than a retirement home
in that gravel-pit development
on the nether side of the village.
But this verso of life can’t last

without the proper nourishment:
albumen and wisps of spirit
endowed by the Great Mother,
Cybele, who laid an egg
that hatched the planet we love.
Our own little egg would borrow

that motif from many traditions,
none of them current enough
to attract the drooling scholars
we once thought we wanted to be.
It would shield us from alpha
and gamma rays, keep out rain

and snow while slowly we mature
into a fresh new species—
this time determined to savor
every flavor of leaf and twig
without self-devolving in fire
and testing the secret of meat.

Elegies of Snow

New snow this morning outweighs
the feeble light. All our fathers
with all of their flimsy shovels

working all night couldn’t halt
this brimming of fossil souls.
But all those fathers have died

and left conclusions yet to conclude.
The creak of the roof suggests
how ungainly our aspirations

have become, how poorly suited
to the sticks and stones we erect
in memory of each other.

The elegies of snow are tactless,
thick as the mold on our bread,
sour as the cheapest wine.

Still, we have to accept the distance
flailing over the mountains
to embrace our little innocence.

We have to start the snow blower,
wield the shovels, rake the load
from the roof as actual people do.

We have to share a pie-colored effort
to cancel the plot against us
and open a clean dark space

where the leverage of our muscles
can prevail against the dolor
of elements we’ll never conquer.

All the fathers applaud us
with a silence thick enough to chew.
Everything we do with snow suggests

further elegies, enriching
the past we flee every day,
leaving boot-prints filled with blood.

A Prayer Shaped like a Kiss

As I drive north, the density
of my life increases. Threats
unspool from the ether. Sacred
objects rust along the roadside.

If I reach the place where rivers
knot to form a single flow
I’ll celebrate with a small lunch
and a prayer shaped like a kiss.

Stones creaking in frozen currents
mean every hard-wrought syllable,
and the railroad singing with pain
as a long freight train unravels

stresses every elongated note.
In such an exfoliate world
I’d be foolish to dogear pages
of subversive old books I love.

Why leave a track clear enough
for the FBI to follow down
to the rim of some mountain lake
where I’ve drowned myself in hope

of meeting the womanly spirit
rumored to live in the depth?
Not that I would apply myself
so bodily to famous myths,

but I wouldn’t want to mislead
agents into fatal gestures
for which no one will thank them.
A car is following me. Its grill

smiles that nasty little smile
that makes its errand official.
I could cross the border to Quebec
and leave my prayer unspoken,

unanswered, my lunch gone stale.
But I’d rather drive straight into
the ambiguous thawing landscapes
of my childhood, the embrace

of melting snowmen calming me
against the enormous velleities
that overhang like storm clouds
unable to make up their minds.


William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, USA. He has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His new poetry collection is A Black River, A Dark Fall.

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