William Doreski's poetry 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 (Splash of Red, 2018).
"First Marriage," by William Doreski
When cockroaches shouldered us
from our top-floor apartment
and herded us to the harbor
and invited us to jump in
and drown, you laughed and shook me
back to sanity. Your earrings,
dashes of gold and pearl,
dangled like forbidden fruit.
Your makeup smeared like abstract
expressionism, the workday
shining through the dusty window.
That was the year of the stolen
cookware, of fiery footsteps
in the Granary Burial Ground.
One day the buses stopped running
and gangs stabbed homeless men sleeping
on the Common. The roaches
weren’t wholly creatures of dream.
Sometimes as I developed prints
in my makeshift darkroom they stomped
into the chemical baths and swam
with cheerful strokes, bathing themselves
in toxins that would fell a horse.
You hated their ghostly spoor
and despised me for failing to pluck
with tweezers every last one
and flushing them into the sewers.
Meanwhile at my office job
the anger stuck to the ceiling
like a smear from a food fight.
No one else noticed, but sighs
precipitated little rainstorms,
and when I went home at dusk
the cockroaches would applaud.
Then grisly with the morning’s rouge
you greeted me with tiny sounds
metallic enough to bleed me
of the routine grief I’d absorbed.