“Two Broken Sticks” by William Doreski

When electric power fails, a sneer
drifts from the haunted forest
and nibbles our extremities.

The night wind rackets in shades
of dolor we otherwise dodge,
being creatures of sprightly mood.

Tonight I lie in a dreamless stupor
and dream anyway, rehearsing
my love of a tiny woman

represented by two broken sticks
dropped on a street in Cambridge
west of the MIT campus.

I don’t remember that woman
seeming so brittle, but the sticks
are undeniable. I drop a tear

in the gutter as the howling
of our deaf old cat wakes me
into dark too thick to stir with

those broken little sticks of pine.
No use explaining this dream
to you, busy feeding the pets.

No use bracing myself against
the windy dawn just brimming
with the last tatter of rain dispersed.

You wouldn’t believe how distant
the streets of Cambridge became
since I last crossed the rainbow

of Longfellow’s cut-stone bridge.
I should have left the two sticks crossed
at an intersection. Too late

to recover them. Just believe,
as I do, that electric power
will restore itself in time

to link us to the Anthropocene,
where dark fades into fresh colors
even the dirt-poor can wear.

 

 

William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent book is Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston.

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