Every evening I walk a mile
through late-blooming pasture rose
to a site prescribed by law.
All night I scan the Atlantic
for shock waves, screams of pain,
and foreign or threatening slang.
The distance from here to Spain
hangs in the air, a seascape
painted in many shades of gloom.
The government pays me to scour
the picture-plane for subversive
and competing points of view.
No one creeps down the path
after dark. Too cold for lovers
to roll naked on the beach
with all their loose limbs flailing.
Too dark for runaway kids
or hobos prowling for food.
The ocean slops and gobbles
in familiar if alien tongues.
Sometimes in the corner of one
or the other eye it swerves,
tilts, elongates in ways
I can’t write up in the notes
I keep in case anyone cares.
Sometimes it slurs like childbirth.
Sometimes it overflows itself
into the lives of those inert
to its constant dredging and filling.
Mostly it casts itself in hues
too subtle for the human eye,
warping my lack of confidence
to conform to faded horizons.
No security threats occur,
although government officials
drown every night in their sleep.
No one blames me, my pay grade
too degrading. Mackerel snap
all night, clams applaud, and starfish
form asterisks to divert me
from the sea-floor’s lack of friction,
the silence of pressurized depth.
William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in various journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His new poetry collection is A Black River, A Dark Fall.