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At the Animal Shelter After Dark


William Doreski

From the deep end of the unlit

parking lot the full moon looks

savory as a macaroon. Clouds

too thin to conceal anything

sweep along, drooling snowflakes

that burst against my upturned face.

You prefer waiting in the light

cast from the shelter doorway.

We’re planning to adopt a cat,

but because of the pandemic

the shelter can accommodate

only one couple at a time.

The cold shrugs through me with sobs

of self-pity. Two dumpsters loom

in the dark, green steel, monumental,

Egyptian with emphatic form.

We’ve already lost our turn

to an eager young pair

so cat-hungry we have to question

their mutual sanity. You watch

through the glass door as they fuss

over paperwork, their forty-dollar

adoption fee already laid out

in plain cash on the counter.

I’d rather watch the moon leer

through the vague and restless sky.

It often illuminates body parts

daylight hardly ever encounters.

Not tonight, though. Too cold

for noodling in parked pickup trucks

or lying in grass by the river.

At this far end of February

snow sulks two feet deep in meadows.

The ice on the lakes is thick enough

to discourage even fisherfolk

who arrive with gas-powered drills.

You gesture for me to join you

inside the shelter where a cat

lately abandoned needs us

to encourage a healthy appetite

and growth of a richer pelt.

The moon looks too aloof to notice

whether I’m watching it or not.

Willing to transcend my species,

I follow you indoors where

the brilliant lamplight washes away

the worst of my sinful thinking.

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.

William Doreski
William Doreski
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