William Doreski

Disappearing and Reappearing in New York

Half the city’s under construction.
As we pass a site, a hole crawling
with hardhats, we disappear.
Caroline screams and I struggle
as if drowning. A great silence
ensues. We reappear somewhere
half suburban-Jersey, Westchester,
the Island. A big picture window,
a view of vinyl and cape and split
level houses. A roomful of dogs
and cats. They watch us recover
our senses. A human couple
hovers nearby. Grim Fascist smiles.

They inform us we’re now keepers
of animals. We must suffer
for the sin of domesticating
creatures that the gods set free
in the instant of creation.
Caroline bears her milky fangs
but the man waves a pistol and points
to a long row of empty dishes.
Feed them, he mutters, this is your life
. I hate that heavy word
but the cats and dogs look hopeful
so I open can after can
of smelly glop and fill the dishes.

Caroline can’t contain herself
despite the gun-threat. Exploding
into her White Goddess costume
she goes pale as the Angel of Death
and blood paints her lips. Her hair
becomes a knot of coral snakes
and her gaze turns the errant couple
into Easter Island figures
of lichen-speckled rock. I applaud,
although Caroline swore years ago
she’d never resume this fatal role.

We step outside and discover
we’re still in the city after all,
a block from where we disappeared,
so we continue our stroll,
the skyscrapers lilting like pipes
of an old brass organ, the dogs
and cats trailing after us
with their carnivorous expressions
cone-shaped, honed and tapered to points.

WILLIAM DORESKI teaches at Keene State College in New Hampshire. His most recent books of poetry are City of Palms and June Snow Dance, both 2012. He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Atlanta Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Worcester Review, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, and Natural Bridge.

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