Adrift with a single oak plank
to support me, I feel distant
from myself and every other
useful geographical feature.
The Atlantic curves away
in every direction equally
unencumbered by horizons.
How did I get so shipwrecked?
I don’t remember going to sea.
I could cling to the plank and paddle
with one hand, but no direction
smells like home. If I let go
I’ll sink to the bottom and maybe
walk a few steps before I drown.
Or maybe it’s so deep the pressure
would implode me before I reached
solid ground. Far away an airplane
streaks across a featureless sky.
The sun stands directly overhead
so I can’t even compass myself.
Maybe if I could kick off my shoes
I could swim toward that contrail
and follow to a continent
large enough to support my weight.
It might take months or a year
to swim myself that far. Or maybe
land leers just out of sight.
Exhausted by thinking what thoughts
apply to my situation,
I lose hold of the plank but find
myself rising, not sinking,
breaking free of the green-gray swells
to swim in the air. I look down
at the drifting plank and laugh;
and as I fly in all directions
I leave my own white contrail
for the entire world to follow.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His latest book is City of Palms (AA Press, 2012). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His fiction, essays, poetry, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Notre Dame Review, Worcester Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, and Natural Bridge. He won the 2010 Aesthetica poetry award.