Poet Laureate

By William Doreski

In Walpole, certain streets climb
the ridge to lord it over
the square white village below.
I can see your condo from here,
tucked in a cluster of roofs.

Across the river a freight train
slinks along the shaky rails.
Further, the scalloped horizon
of the Green Mountains staggers
from south to north, scoring
its persistence into the sky.

Your married lover’s long dead,
and the space he occupied fills
with a shivery yellow mist,
so you’re surely writing something
crisp enough to float a load
of sentiment that otherwise
would sink the bravest metaphor.

Maybe when I walk back down
the ridge I’ll phone and invite you
to slurp coffee at the café 
and chat about the aesthetic
we’ve wasted our best years parsing.

Yes, I know you walk with a cane
and may not want to expose
your bulk to caprice of summer—
insects, thunder, and heat stroke.
Although we’ve never been friends,
today I think we should try.

But maybe you’re not even there
anymore, having slipped away
with a scrawled page smoldering
in your wake, every word as tough
as a promise made in vain.

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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