A Postcard to Janice by William Doreski

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Narrated by William Doreski

William Doreski, "A Postcard to Janice"
Illustration by Sue Babcock


At the market the man who works
the meat counter remembers you
after forty years. The ruddy smile
that toppled men in their tracks.
The childish figure powerful
as a question mark. I explained

the night by the river, the reek
of dead perch, slobber of current.
In a parked car someone lit
a cigarette. We explained ourselves
not as lovers but as strangers
trapped together on a spaceship

pointed at another galaxy.
We knew we’d die of old age long
before we got there. A gesture
so tentative we couldn’t say
which of us made it. We postured
at the river’s edge while the couple

in the parked car exhausted
their options. Six months later
you married a troll and suffered
until you bore a child you named
after a black hole at the edge
of the cosmos. Then you divorced

and lumbered into oblivion
where a third party married you
in silence in a Catholic church
that overlooked your basic
impurity because the priest
thought your smile too rococo

to ignore. The butcher smiles
through a claptrap of dentures.
“Like this?” We laugh together
while in the parking lot the dark
at the end of summer gathers
its skirts in a sudden huff.


BIO: William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work 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. He has a blog at williamdoreski.blogspot.com, and is on Twitter at @wdoreski.