Lindens on the Avenue
The lindens on the avenue
turn over their leaves for rain.
They will outlive you by one
or more centuries, their breath
fragile and necessary, their smiles
too subtle for cops and dogwalkers
to make time to appreciate.
You’ve overlooked this city
for so long it has absorbed you,
your powerful blonde persistence
inciting unnatural forces
to open a secret grave somewhere
among the broken warehouses
south of the financial district.
When after a night of mating
with that rich old man downstairs
you stumble into that cavity
you’ll remember the swagger
of the lindens in tropical storm
when a fallen limb stopped traffic
and seagulls blown from the harbor
cackled and sneered at the mess.
The rich old man won’t miss you
because money has blinded him
to the glare of your Renoir pose.
With both his eye and his glass eye
he also observes the lindens,
but from a lower floor, unable
to see the tops sway in the wind.
The days slip past with little cries
you mistake for your grandchildren
calling from a terrible height.
Those are actually the creaking
of linden boughs, a form of thought
philosophers more adept than you
have struggled to interpret,
snagging their beards in the twigs.
Inside the inn a man
returns from the bath, a towel
draped over his meaty shoulder.
Another man smoking a pipe
reclines while a blind masseur
kneels in the open doorway.
To the right, in their own room,
three women touch up their makeup
as they prepare to entertain.
Is this a place of sex work
or merely of roadside rest?
The rooms stand so widely open
to the plank connecting walkway
that nothing remains secret
for more than a moment or two.
Already before May ends
some roadside weeds have rusted
the color of certain old men
who had taken too much pride
in heritage, race, and hauteur.
The stems look brittle and crude.
Reproductive parts have withered,
having already done their best.
You want to trim our frontage
to let certain ferns flourish
in all their asexual glory.
You don’t care that cutting
these scrawny uprights would hurt
where I’ve never been hurt before,
spilling the sickliest fluids.
It’s that kind of season, the cries
of tiny animals audible
for the first time, toads fisting
in the garden, the daydreams
of songbirds ghosting in the blue.
Today I should enclose myself
in a thicket of books and drowse
until I reach the threshold,
then pull myself back to the world
with a shameful little blush.
But I feel restless, afraid
that if I stay too still I’ll root
against my will, striking bedrock
only an inch below the surface,
confirming the slope of my pose.
William Doreski‘s work has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall and Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston