“Nature constructs in us the mass which is the home of the intellect, before forming that which
contains the vital elements.” Such which dissuades me from levity. I wield the ballpoint pen you
gave me, and scribble with reference to vital elements other than intellect. Like Leonardo, I don’t
consider intellect a vital element.
Observe the wild turkeys ransacking our back yard. Vital as grenades, fluffed and brimming with
energy, they rake the snow for seed and then retire to the blasted pine to effervesce in repose.
They look like witches perched on broomsticks flying over Salem. But these are real turkeys, and
the Salem witches were either frauds or innocent or both. Rather like me. I defraud this notebook
by pretending to accede to Leonardo’s faith in nature. I expose my innocence by referring to
turkeys as objects of self-enlightenment.
How should I exonerate myself? I return to Leonardo’s notebook and learn that “the greatest
thickness acquired by any limb is at the part of the muscle which is farthest from its
attachments.” I read this as “the greatest thickness acquired by the intellect is at the part of the
brain which is farthest from its most foolish ideas.”
Anything to make you laugh, even misusing which for that. Anything to prolong the moment of
depth that consoles me when winter dusk cloaks the turkeys on their roosts and settles like a
layer of soot.
WILLIAM DORESKI lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has published three critical studies. His poetry 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 (Splash of Red, 2018).