William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in a small house in the woods. He taught at Keene State College for many years, but has now retired to feed the deer and wild turkeys. He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals and several small-press books. His forthcoming book of poetry is The Last Concert (Salmon Press). williamdoreski.blogspot.com
The rain smells like the back porch
of our third-floor apartment
in the city of bankrupt joy.
Remember the raccoons flensing
the garbage cans every night?
Remember the cries of neighbors
having sex with their tropical fish?
The rain whirls in the pine-tops
like Ginger Rogers in her prime.
The rain coughs through the gutters
with the discretion of diplomats
and the arrogance of old wool socks.
You hated that brown apartment.
You packed a dozen bags and left
in a huff of broken plaster
and rented a boat-shaped room
overlooking the intersection
where someone tried to assassinate
the visiting Queen of Sweden.
You wished you had witnessed
the heroism of that moment
when the man you hoped to love
flung himself before the bullet,
which in fact missed everyone
and flattened against a brick.
Though that happened before your birth
you imagined cuddling that hero
in your boat-shaped room while the press
pressed at the door for interviews.
Now the rain smells unheroic—
a murk of peeling green paint
and raccoon urine. The secrets
of the moon are safe for the moment,
and the exhilaration of pines
distracts you from the runoff—
which in sour little doses,
if you were humble enough to kneel
and drink, would purge your lust
for horizons too private and rosy
for the rest of us to enjoy.