Women Shaped like Religious Objects
My father returns to warn me
that crocodiles inhabit
my claw-foot bathtub, that women
shaped like religious objects
creep over the steppes to claim
the darkest parts of my body.
My father claims that his death
taught him to ignore dimensions
that occlude the normal eyesight
of myopic people like me.
If I could see through his ghost,
he says, I’d realize the greater
expanse of Siberia lies
within reach of my favorite chair.
I don’t intend to bathe for a week
or more, and haven’t worn glasses
since cataract surgery blinded me
to a past I never admired.
But Siberia sluiced with rivers
hacked north through fuming tundra
intrigues me with tribal customs
in which I wish to smelt myself.
I reach as far as I can and dip
my fingers in the Bering Strait,
lick the salt and taste a distance
I had never thought available.
With my other arm I sweep across
a million spruce-tops, like brushing
a cat. My father smiles his favorite
oval smile. As I thank him he fades.
The clack of crocodile jaws
in the bathtub startles me awake,
and an oracular crowd
of women overshadows me
in the name of some louche deity,
deepening the dark inside.
Copyright © William Doreski 2016
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and teaches at Keene State College. His most recent book of poetry is The Suburbs of Atlantis (2013). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals.