In and Out of Season

By William Doreski
The dripping woods smell like salsa. Or reggae. Or bluegrass. I can’t distinguish among these shades of musk. Amphibians plot underfoot. They punctuate the mind with philosophical dots and dashes. Kant, for one, also thought above and below the surface, but valued courtesy too much to slink along forest floors and trip unwary hikers. If I slipped on a wet root and broke an ankle I’d lie there and hypothermalize until some marauding forest ranger shoveled me into a bag and dragged me to the landfill. I know that “hypothermalize” is a word most people would refuse to acknowledge, but I lust for its jagged consonants the way my mother lusted for peanut brittle every year around Thanksgiving. She couldn’t eat it in any other season. No, the trees had to unleaf themselves and snow had to be plotting in the distance before she would unhinge her dentures. She would disapprove of my risking my stilted old self in the rainy woods on a fetid October Wednesday with the orange gloom thickening. Or is it green gloom? Salsa is orange, reggae is brassy yellow, and bluegrass isn’t blue at all but crimson. The woods smell of colors I’ve never seen with the naked eye, colors amphibians don to camouflage themselves against my clumsy footfall. Maybe when I’ve fallen and can’t get up those little creatures will sympathize; but once I’ve entered entropy they’ll hiss in chorus like the first snow falling on the forest floor.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has published three critical studies. His poetry has appeared in many 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 (Splash of Red, 2018).