Along a patchwork sidewalk, asphalt, flagstone, cement, a doughy child totes a bundle of toweling. What has she wrapped? Maybe a dead baby brother. Maybe a live baby brother. I should stop her and ask. I’m sure she would tell me. Look at her knee socks, sandals, short skirt. Only a child could dress like that and survive. Behind her, the brick row houses with limestone ground-floor facades grin into the usual London smog. Politely, in the Fifties, we called it fog, but everyone knew that wasn’t the right word. Has this child grown up and old? I hope that rolling her baby brother, dead or alive, in a towel didn’t impede her progress through childhood, puberty, and womanhood. We don’t hold such tiny crimes against anyone. Besides, there’s no corpus delicti. It’s only a roll of towels fresh from the laundry. Her mother needs those towels to dry baby brother fresh from his bath. By now he too has grown up and old, and appreciates our concern.
Alone in the park, framed by trash cans, perched on a picnic table, this fellow looks too crewcut to trust. Look how the trees lean over him. One tree has disjointed its trunk, like a carnival trickster. The ground looks so smooth, a billiard table without billiard balls, except for the one rock set before the young man like an offering. The rakish ledge behind him leers with geological certainty. The woman with her back turned is fading into the background. She doesn’t know this man. Doesn’t care how white his shirt, how blunt his crewcut. This polished slab of landscape conceals and reveals in proportion to the needs of strangers. The trees contort into holographs no one can read.
William Doreski teaches courses in poetry and fiction writing, literary theory, and poetics. His own poetry has appeared in many journals and several books. His most recent collection is “Another Ice Age” (2007). He has also published five books of criticism, including “Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors” (1999) and “The Modern Voice in American Poetry” (1995).
Blue vast oceans
Surround this tan, sandy beach
Here I dream
Dream that all things are possible
Dream that someday
I’ll have a massive, silver diamond ring
On my hand
With a beautiful girl
By my side
Giving me one of those big smiles
With eyes filled with admiration
In my dreams
We would be the perfect couple
Rub the kinks out of each other’s necks
Dip grapefruit into heaves of chocolate
And feed it to each other
Such a luscious experience
That all can relate too
This is just me dreaming
Among the swooshing waves
With the soft sand
Beneath my toes
In the spot
Where dreams come true
Heather Lisbon lives in North Dakota and is applying to MFA programs.