Your rear deck abuts the canal
so closely I can stretch to touch
the flanks of huge container ships
creeping along with Chinese goods
piled six boxes tall on deck.
The climate’s so lush your garden
looks nubile as flesh. Prowling
amid the squash and lettuce you smile
that famous oyster of a smile
and I want to roll in the soil
and howl with all of my organs.
We like Panama—the government
too timid to annoy us
despite the khaki uniforms,
the tourists sobered by the sight
of the canal with its massive
steel and concrete locks receiving
hulking black-hulled ships with ease.
I like to spend the days reading
on the deck and waving at crews
from every nation in the world.
You with your garden obsession
so tire yourself that by evening
while I peel and cook vegetables
for yet another casserole
you lie so flat on your chaise-longue
you look like a paper doll.
At night the canal smells deep
as the world’s great lobotomy.
The Atlantic and Pacific meet
reluctantly, at different levels.
Why can’t the oceans lie as flat
as you can? We slip into bed
like big freighters into the locks
and every day we emerge fresh
in the lukewarm view and peer
up and down the canal to count
the ships the way Homer did,
the stream of commerce brimming.
About the Author
William Doreski teaches at Keene State College in New Hampshire. His most recent collection of poetry is Waiting for the Angel (2009). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals, including Massachusetts Review, Atlanta Review, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, Lowestoft Chronicle, and Natural Bridge.