Expert at ignoring pensive
I still enjoy a good cry
in a dusty, gloomy cathedral
like Durham, York, or Salisbury.
John Donne’s wrought-iron sermons
doctor me into moments
perilously close to belief.
Although I see myself shrouded
like Dean Donne practicing death,
I may never visit England
again, so I’d better dismiss
the soul-wrenching cathedral scenes
and accept the present tense.
You suggest I’m like a sea slug
that self-decapitates to grow
a fresh body free of parasites.
The video you discovered
on the internet intrigues me—
separated head nosing about
its abandoned body, its feelers
serving as surrogate legs.
How does it generate such will?
Yes, shucking my body and growing
a fresh excrescence appeals.
But wouldn’t my withered expression
perched atop a new adolescence
look gamey and horrify friends?
Although I prefer to daydream
in my battered leather chair,
maybe I should fly to York.
In the thirteenth century minster
the midnight is deep as the sea.
So many decapitations marred
the reigns of Henry the Eighth
and Queens Mary and Elizabeth
that England must have seemed like
the ocean floor where sea slugs
like me can do without bodies
long enough to grow new ones
purified of competing faiths,
our slime-trails abruptly ended.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.