On the Itinerary 

Repairing your house around us, 

carpenters snort and hammer, 

snuffle and saw and cough up

great foggy clouds of sawdust.

Your structure has failed you.

Termites have punctured studs,

rafters and joists. Rain wept to stain  

your wallboard. Mice nibbled

your wiring, and scorched themselves

to rot behind the baseboard.

So we lie unspeaking in bed

while gruff voices curse and slur

and power tools whine. Today

the new roof promises to hold

its grip despite the hurricane

pummeling up the coast. Also

a layer of fiberglass batting

expects to warm you all winter

as snow whispers in the marsh.

I won’t be here to oversee

that climate change. Tomorrow

I’m packing for a lengthy stay

in the ruins of the asylum

where ghosts of demented children

rattle in the tumbled brickwork.

You wonder how I’ll survive

the cold and damp. Maybe later,

when Christmas dangles its toys,

I’ll return with luggage crammed

with laundry and pages torn

from old psychiatric reports.

Maybe we’ll find our own names 

on those reports, and also those

of the carpenters you’ve hired

to intercede in our love lives

with their mouthfuls of nails

and their sweat rebuking our sloth.

William Doreski’s work has appeared in various electronic and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall (2018).