Dynamite Always Brightens a Dumbfounded Winter Day
On the road to the marsh I find
a stick of dynamite, blasting
cap attached. It must have fallen
off a truck. I toss the stick
into a snowbank, retreat
two hundred yards, trigger it
with telepathy. The blast
spews a world-class snow-cloud.
As if a page of music unfurled
in a single huge chord, the noise
astonishes the innocent ear,
leaving a memory of bells.
Nearby trees shrug off their rime
like elegant women undressing.
In a yard a quarter mile away
a pack of retrievers goes crazy.
How did I will such omniscience?
A truck dawdles in spew of fumes
and pulls up beside me, driver
grinning with stainless aplomb.
With honest beer-breath he reports
that the crew heard the blast and cheered.
Dynamite always brightens
a dumbfounded winter day.
The truck maunders on, spewing
a beer can or two. How casual
can explosions be? The ice
on the marsh may have rippled
in sympathy. Maybe an owl
stirred in sleep. Already the dogs
down the road have finished barking
and returned to playing in snow.
The cold pouring down from the Arctic has toughened into a hideous animal that we shouldn’t pet, trust, or feed. Let it forage as it will. Let it growl and claw the pine-trunks. Don’t let it into the house unless you think it’s about to produce a litter. Then, of course, common humanity would require us to shelter it. But I don’t believe there will be a litter. More likely it’s pretending to be pitiful, like the scruffy man who sits in the café all morning staring into his laptop computer without buying anything. Bestial cold will behave in a bestial manner. But it doesn’t conceal its carnivorous instincts. It doesn’t lie about the depth of its cold. It doesn’t strut and boast of conquering creatures more fragile than itself. It doesn’t squat on real estate and milk the poor for mortgages. It doesn’t believe in money, much less waste it on follies to insult the ninety-nine percent. Still we agree that this creature belongs outdoors. Yes, it plants a murky kiss on the kitchen window. Yes, it seems to threaten the deer browsing at our bird feeders. Yes, it whispers brittle little nothings in a language we don’t understand. Let’s just keep it outside, at least for now. I’m confident it will thrive on its own.
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.