Boylston and Berkeley
The red-enameled fire escape
at Boylston and Berkeley recalls me
to the life I lived in my twenties,
walking daily under this structure
without wondering who painted it
such a startling, officious color.
The building features oriels
peering over the passing crowd,
illuminating rooms haunted
by generations of businessfolks
ripening slowly to poverty.
I’d like to enter and sneak upstairs
and prowl the corridors in hopes
of meeting someone as past-tense
as I feel on this dull afternoon
with traffic gnarling in outrage
and pedestrians wilting lockstep
in the lavish late-summer glare.
I’d like to speak to the ghost
of someone who saw me passing
half a century ago, my face
enshrouded by lack of detail.
The fire escape reaches to the roof.
Only a three-story building,
but even from that modest height
I must, at this moment, look small
enough for someone to pocket
and carry, all helpless, away.
Not Art but Apery
Because you hate photography,
which is “not art but apery,”
you’ve buried my camera in dunes
behind your house on the Cape.
You claim that only the mind
can process imagery precisely
in the four dimensions required.
Only the human brain can render
in spiritual geometry rich
enough to please the connoisseur
who flourishes in each of us.
Sea wind sculpts the dunes in shapes
too subtle to parse at a glance.
The sea itself rumples in colors
I can’t say are blue, green, or gray
and can’t affix in memory.
You with your accented speech,
your distant tinge of Russia,
insist I sketch on good rag paper
my post-impression of a lifetime
spent admiring surf and haze.
The pencil droops in my hand.
The damp air curls the paper.
You dare me to test the eye
against the curls and slope of dunes.
I fail so badly that I draw
someone’s naked torso, surely
not yours, slumping in a tub
of brackish yellow water: more
a crime scene than an artwork.
But maybe when you taunt me
with rants against technology
this is exactly what you mean.
—Published 9th October 2018
About William Doreski
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in various 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