William Doreski

To the Queen of the Zodiac

Cheap wine muddles my vision
and hearing, the lilt of brain waves
too intricate to heal itself
once and for all in diapason
of twitters. Yet you ply me
with Riesling pale as the air
of May dusk, criminal intentions
etched on the mask you prefer
to the face your mother gave you.

We wander out to the garden
where only tulips and primrose,
hyacinth, snowdrops, daffodils
flaunt their primal urges. Mayflies
stir in the shadows, appetites
famous enough to kill. Trout
have been rising to their larvae
for a month, but I haven’t donned
my waders in years, my guilt
extended to the fish-world.

You find this guilt preposterous.
The rims of our empty wineglasses
catch the last of the dying light
and you pour from the bottle
you’ve brought from the house. You claim
I’m your dog-star, something to steer by,
but I’m too addled to respond.
Otherwise I’d name you Queen
of the Zodiac, monsters
and heroes warped to your will.

The flowers fold into themselves,
their arrogance perfected, stamen
and pistil satisfied over
and over by act and design.
We can’t attain that perfection
but compensate by narrowing
our eyes to censor the third
dimension, and by embracing
unfamiliar anatomies, far
too evolved, like the yellow dusk,
for our limited senses to solve.

William Doreski’s work has appeared in many print and electronic journals, and his most recent collection is Another Ice Age (AA Press, 2007).  He teaches writing and literature at Keene (NH) State College.