by William Doreski

Square old houses brace themselves
against the raw intelligence
that slowly devolves as history.

We’ve never inhabited such rooms,
being of sturdy peasant stock
and knowing our place in the scheme.

Plumbing rattles for attention,
paint peels in leaden misery,
mice clatter through the ductwork,

but the rich people stay indoors
all winter, plotting to hang
their money, framed, on the world.

We sit outdoors despite the cold
and nibble a factory-baked scone.
Friendly dogs pause to assess

their chances of a friendly handout.
Nothing theatrical about 
this scene, this village, this ripe

Sunday morning. We’ll drive home
with our symptoms intact: dry mouth,
bleeding palate, aching shoulders.

Diagnosis: aging human hulks.
The muse of our sodden marriage
strolls past in a purple coat.

We could accost her and demand
certain adjustments. But she’d laugh
and explain that the angle of light

shapes us more than her casual
patronage does. Next time
we come, the light will have shifted

and the friendly dogs will form a pack
to police the village and bark
strangers like us into silence.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.