At the farm stand a woman is coughing, coughing, coughing, laying down a trail of fever that will track her for days until it kills her. We try to browse among impatiens and geraniums, but like everyone else we fear the lethal virus that woman is promoting. Everyone is masked, like avengers. What is there to avenge but vengeance itself? The flowers look resentful. They want to climb out of their pots and enter more fully into their own brief lives. Beyond the greenhouses the freshly plowed fields sprawl in their nudity. We’re ashamed to look. The indecency of bare earth reminds us that we were young and vigorous not so long ago.
Look, though: in the far field an airplane, a Beechcraft two-seater, is warming up, its engine puttering with self-satisfaction. Someone has rolled a length of field into a makeshift airstrip. I haven’t piloted a plane for years, but I could manage that one. We should rush over and leap into the cockpit while the pilot is having coffee with the cashier. We could fly that plane a hundred miles to someplace that’s somewhere. We would identify that place by its lack of familiarity, its conical hills and sprawling oblong lakes, its steeples bluff as totem poles. If we could land without crashing, we’d alight and settle there. Then we’d be strangers to wherever we are, strangers to ourselves and each other, eager to start afresh, still bearing the scent of potted flowers.
William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught at Emerson College, Goddard College, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent books are Water Music and Train to Providence. williamdoreski.blogspot.com