In an Egg
If only we lived in an egg
our dimensions would solidify
in glut of protein tough enough
to absorb the dark and prosper.
No, we’d never hatch. The depth
of our moods would flatter us
without the faintest expression.
Little moons would adorn the shell
to enlighten us in sheaves
of unmoored atoms. The beard
of Allen Ginsberg would recur
like Spanish moss and drape us
in comforting swirls and curls.
This little world would last us
longer than a retirement home
in that gravel-pit development
on the nether side of the village.
But this verso of life can’t last
without the proper nourishment:
albumen and wisps of spirit
endowed by the Great Mother,
Cybele, who laid an egg
that hatched the planet we love.
Our own little egg would borrow
that motif from many traditions,
none of them current enough
to attract the drooling scholars
we once thought we wanted to be.
It would shield us from alpha
and gamma rays, keep out rain
and snow while slowly we mature
into a fresh new species—
this time determined to savor
every flavor of leaf and twig
without self-devolving in fire
and testing the secret of meat.
Your desirable little hands smooth our cocktail crowd, easing us into positions we will never forget. You think you’re the moon polishing a landscape; but outside, the city roars like a red lion, and pensive shopfronts stoke passion no one can control. You want your friends to slip under each other like sheets of paper. You want us to imprint each other in drifts of wrinkles and folds. I can’t endorse your chemical bathos, your nineteenth-century plotting, but I appreciate your little hands the way the night sky appreciates stars. Of course we can’t see the stars: the reddish city sky obliterates the cosmos, disabusing everyone of faith. That would be good except that someone deep in the room is complaining about election fraud and multiple abortions. You run your hands over the space that person occupies, and he ceases. The fragrance of forgotten history wafts from person to person. We smile like meringue. You smile also, but the cocktails we’ve imbibed churn like Charybdis, and with all the seals broken, all the bulkheads breached, our ghosts mingle without inhibition, rendering us moot.
The Domestic Baudelaire
Medicating the cats requires a delicate touch. No pills, please, no liquids, only a stroke as delicate as a breeze sculpting a drift. Reading how daintily Baudelaire entered the world of cats, I declare him my idol in lust and vengeance. Many before me have done the same. He shook the nineteenth century like a naughty child. He shook until its bones broke and settled in the bottom of its skin-bag.
The cats look at me askance. They know I’d never harm them, but they worry that Baudelaire in his black velvet with his rusty old mistresses is a poor model for me. Yes, the temper of his era had been warped by Darwin and Poe, and yes, the salacious idea of genius pervaded the airwaves. I don’t believe in genius, but I do believe in cats. Stroking sparks from their winter fur both soothes and excites me.
If my touch medicates like the touch of a faith healer, then we can all settle down for an eternity of blessings. But that didn’t work for Baudelaire, who died of shame, and it won’t work for me, who has never entered the world of cats as deeply as the best French poetry does, all its pennants fluttering and its yellow eyes ablaze.
William Doreski lives in the woods in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His writing has appeared in many journals and a few books. He likes his cats.