William Doreski… At the William Stafford Memorial and the Last Concert

 

At the William Stafford Memorial

On the left coast, cypress pointed
like thorns scrabble at the sky.
Along the river, a mock Stonehenge
casts sinews of deep shadows
among which you pose smiling
and rapt in your bubble-pattern scarf
as you lean on William Stafford’s
Giacometti-shaped memorial.
 
If your shadow catches up with you,
both of you may go adrift, floating
over Portland, your scarf a cloud,
your smile a daylight crescent.
 
Meanwhile Stafford’s ghost muddles
among the first spring flowers,
red and blue trimmings to border
a lush and consequent afternoon.
His pacifism warps the horizon
to conform to your fondest moments:
those spent reading or thinking
in a shower of pastels, shared
only with gravest reservations.
 
The cypress scratch but can’t damage
the sky. Leaning against
the starkest of infinities,
you uphold yourself and the world
with your bubble-pattern scarf
as casual as the poet’s ghost
fluttering in flaccid light.
 
 
 

The Last Concert

The stars dress more formally
since we counted the oak leaves
fallen that one drab afternoon.
 
The stars exude atomic hues
to endorse the famous nudes
that step from art museums
 
to dance to certain tunes scraped
on home-made instruments sporting
one string each. We share a love
 
of such primitive music, the cries
of mating cats and dog-bark
tuning a chorus in G flat.
 
By the Charles as conventional
music fumes from the Hatch Shell
couples explore each other’s seams
 
and find the weak spots where thread
has rotted in the damp climate.
We watch from a safe distance,
 
remembering that we have counted
enough oak leaves to carpet
the entire river basin. Two
 
or three little sailboats flicker
in the cold November wind,
their bow lights tracing them back
 
to the dock to tie up for night.
The last concert of the year
has set the musicians shivering
 
before an audience upholstered
with boisterous winter coats.
The stars observe with indifference,
 
but their formal dress expresses
not only the nudes dancing
in Copley Square despite the cold
 
but also the rehashed Beethoven
churning beside the river.
We watch from a safe distance,
 
too old to expose ourselves
to the yellow lamplight, too shy
to let the stars understand us.
 
We can’t process each other
the way those young couples do,
but we can parse the starlight
 
and read in the various hues
the journal someone has kept for us
in our long, unaccounted absence.
 
 

William Doreski’s most recent book is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). His poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals. He lives in Peterborough, NH.

Copyright © 2016 by William Doreski

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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