Mountain Laurel in Mason

By William Doreski

Nothing personal in splays
of mountain laurel enriching
the simple hardwood forest.

Driving through Mason, we gaze
at the surf of white blossoms
flaunting without a critique.

June days as thick as this one
require such floral displays
to endorse their other products.

Gnats, mosquitoes, and deer flies
gnaw and sip the acres of flesh
they claim as their heritage.

Have you noted the evil abroad?
Like and unlike the laurel it flaunts
ornamental but vicious motives.

Like and unlike the insect world
it subscribes to plain survival
without those stony excuses

we’re tired of refereeing.
To you the sky is always green.
To me the hills look yellow.

Fauves in our palates, cubist
in crudely grasping dimension,
we perk along the back roads

with all our senses tingling.
Parked by a marshful of lilies,
the far shore spackled with laurel,

we muse on the water level—
the lowered shoreline exposing
bullsheads rooted in the mud.

We can’t parse the entire world,
but mouthfuls catch our attention
and we speak in familiar tongues

of familiar textures and forms.
The evil putters about, wiping
its hands on its apron. Masons

wear aprons, and the town
of Mason sports an oversized
Masonic hall to make a point.

But laurel, not stone, dominates,
softening lines and easing the eye
away from the evil we spread

wherever we install our works—
the marsh only a naked spot
ripening in naked glare.


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.

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