The Last New England Elegy

by William Doreski

We won’t feel the same about ferns
bronzing in the October gloom.
We won’t smell the burnt blue gossip
hazing above the village.
These modest deaths have wrung us dry
and left us fragile as wasp nests.

Vermont has become a monument,
while Maine has stuffed its pockets
with stones and stepped into the sea.
New Hampshire’s flannel shirt has torn,
Rhode Island has paved itself flat.
Connecticut no longer cares,
Massachusetts repents in sighs.

You read the map from south to north
while I scan it west to east.
We will never feel the same
about the snarls of numbered routes,
about the folds and tears and stains
and the mapmaker’s famous colors.

These little deaths have severed
interstate highways and stranded
motorists who were driving drunk
with all of their zippers undone.
The grief has sickened the maples,
which will fail to bud in April
when only flowerings count.

Can the outer planets console us?
Tonight they’ll shrug right up to us
and lave us in toxic ammonias
as we sleep off the steepest angles.
What’s left? Our surviving pets
mutter in their private language
as the good garden soil turns over
and over, restless and gnostic
as it sorts its worms and grubs.

William Doreski has published three critical studies and several collections of poetry. His poetry, essays, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many print and online journals. He has taught writing and literature at Emerson, Goddard, Boston University, and Keene State College. His most recent books are A Black River, A Dark Fall and Train to Providence. He has a blog at