June 23, 2010

How Complex Geometry Gets

by William Doreski

The angles at which forest trees
lean into each other suggest
how complex geometry gets
before it resolves anything.
You and I meet at angles
even more oblique than birch
leaning into the boughs of oak.
On Main Street clutching book bags
we avoid a fatal meeting
of mutually brown eyes. We crouch
at an iron café table
and speak at angles so acute
they behead the strangers around us.

The afternoon sickens with cloud.
Shadows and other subtleties
fade as thunder trips on Beech Hill
and topples full-length on the town.
In Penn Station twenty years ago
I saw a child crushed when a man
rushing for a train fell over
a suitcase. As I describe this crime
your face becomes a hole through which
a downdraft funnels with a howl.
The child looked broken all over,
whimpering for several minutes
but dying before the cops came.

Despite your love of Dostoevsky
you’ve never heard so casual
a disaster recounted before.
You’d rather not hear details,
but the rain blazing in the street
prevents your escape, and the weight
of The Brothers Karamazov stashed
in your book bag anchors you
to characters much riper than me,
and the angles at which we’re sitting
add up to a perfect horizon
of a hundred and eighty degrees.


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