We Must Consider Our Legacy
William Doreski

We Must Consider Our Legacy

Maybe we’ll leave a rusty stain
or two, a touch of dry rot.
Summer is like that: a tingle
of storm, followed by drought of flesh
and bone, the back roads heaving.
You expect me to clean the chimney,

service the gas heater, poison
caterpillars eating the hemlocks.
You want me to dust off the cats
and rouse them to cheer the first frost
when it warps and crazes the landscape.
We must consider our legacy—

a clash of competing angles
and tremble of pale intrusions.
We must keep a detailed journal
of our daily quarrels, noting
dominant flavors and colors.
Crickets extemporize in the weeds.

Such music can’t go unanswered,
but history suggests that it does.
Thousands of miles away, artillery
shivers whole civilizations.
We could be cringing in a cellar
with our parts neatly concealed.

We could be exploded in the street
with our parts scattered for scrap.
The stains and rot we leave behind
will speak for us with undertones
others will be too busy to hear.
Just as well. The next generation

will distribute its own disorder,
and moss will thicken over it.
Hard words will crack in the frost
and the cats will peer with wonder
as spirits trapped for centuries
flutter in the chill and disperse.

William Doreski

lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Dogs Don’t Care (2022). His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.