ONE POEM – William Doreski

Photo by Julia Craice on Unsplash

Sea Stars for Sale

Dried for sale, sea stars remind you
that we haven’t seen the Atlantic 
breathing heavily along a beach
for a couple of plague-struck years.

We could drive to the edge and pee
into the surf and soothe ourselves
with clamburgers from the joint propped
on the lip of the parking lot.

The ocean is a demanding creature.
If we don’t visit, it will come 
to us with gusty currents shaped
to drag us toward the ultimate depth

where secret phosphorescence prevails.
We live only sixty miles inland
and can’t excuse ourselves for missing
appointments with the under-gods.

The sea stars look artificial.
Evolution shaped their poise.
Not all tidepool creatures display
such formal respect. We would,

if we had to live in the shallows.
We would shape exquisite shells
and gladly risk collection
for museums where small children

would gasp covetous little gasps.
Soon the under-gods will die,
and nitrogen runoff will sicken,
and plastic scrap will choke the sea.

If we stand on the beach, we’ll catch
a whiff of that prophetic death.
Once the ocean has simplified,
a hurricane will lift and place it

on the altar of entropy,
where we can kneel all creaky
in calcified bodies and offer
the last of our present tense.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire (USA). He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.

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