Riding the slipstream from Boston to Peterborough, I flash like a minnow for bait. Speeders hiss
past, sizzling. The snowy but sparse woodland resents the human race, but the oldest farmhouses,
stripped of their agrarian angst, stand aloof from nature and culture. Villages—Littleton, Groton,
Townsend—fry in their digital sublime. Everyone is wired to everyone else. Yet like the first
automaton, I suffer the solitary grief of Adam before his dream. If I survive this drive, if the
northwest angle doesn’t steepen, I’ll flop on the familiar sofa as if fainting into a lover’s
embrace. The cats will slop all over me, baring their tongues for the salt of my perspiration. The
woodstove will hum with satisfaction. Meanwhile the angle might be slipping, growing slightly
obtuse. What if it detours me to Worcester, or even to Hartford? What if the map of New
England refolds itself in the clumsy manner of my childhood? Has anyone thought to call the
state police to rescue me from the smelting of self that occurs when one drives too far alone? The
dogleg of the Nashua River looms ahead. No, its’s off to the side. It has frozen over, and looks
clean enough to reflect with great accuracy the coming solar eclipse. But by August the river will
look dark and moody again, and if I’m still alert to the textures about me I’ll be driving more
slowly than ever, running on fumes.

 

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).

Image: Google maps, screenshot.