Corkscrewing down the cellar stairs,
I dare the worn planks to creak
or otherwise betray me. Pie-slice
wedge-steps work a right angle.
The handrail’s a linear sketch,
a crippled M-shape warped
along the concrete foundation,
then bent across a partition
painted gray half a century past.
Framed in dark, the lit stairway
flowers like something sinister,
something overripe and seeding
in the ruined old greenhouse in France
I visited decades ago.
Monet would have liked that greenhouse
with its slats and lattices of sun
trilling through the broken glass.
No natural light to ease this cellar,
no lambent blossoms run wild—
only muscled shadows thick enough
to trouble me as I descend
to face a house-wide expanse
of dusty floor and clumsy objects
of competing dimensions conspiring
in shades too subtle to parse.
William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His work has appeared in various 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.