When you stare up at the ceiling
and catch in a corner the face
of your inevitable ghost
I refuse to look. I bury
myself in book or magazine
and hope the smell of burning
wafts from the history of Scotland
rather than from the clashing
of gears left unlubricated
in the machinery of your mind.
Not that tormenting witches
and gnashing your rusty intellect
have much in common, but wisps
of blue smoke trouble the kitchen,
and you look up with fixed purpose
learned in cheerleading season
at the high school that frightened us
so badly we swore off history
and algebra for many years.
The ceiling lacks moon and stars,
but the universe has settled
and is starving in its cobwebs.
I wish I could persuade you
to look at the floor and count crumbs
from the innocent moments of life.
Something cast in cheap metal ticks
in the corner of your eye where
the first hint of frost lingers.
Yesterday a dozen snowflakes
whispered along the horizon
to inflect our pale embrace.
We should agree that the season
needs us. It won’t fully relax
until we focus long enough
to enjoy it: the smell of the lake
absorbing the stink of burning,
and the ghost face toughening
into a gargoyle suitable
for placing in next year’s garden
to amuse and comfort the toads.
William Doreski”s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013).