North To Rutland
by William Doreski

Cowboy singers mourn the Fifties,

Hank Williams and two-tone Chevys,

Stevenson versus Ike.  Too bad,

but a dank chilly wind surges

from a limestone cave on Dorset Peak

where a red-haired muse abandoned me

and my hair turned white.  It happens 
to everyone.  The valley fills 

with the hoot of a diesel engine

and rattle of empty hopper cars.

On the bypass a head-on crash

subtracts two from the population.

Tourists browse a historic house,

writing their initials in the dust.

can't remember that woman's name,

but the green down vest she wore

as she steered her Saab up the hill

past the abandoned marble quarry

lingers in the corner of my eye.

the villages clench and relax, clench

and relax. A gravel truck swerves

down a narrow road. A child

doesn't get out of the way. A dog

barks because the Angel of Death

wears such a musty billow of cloud.

She would claim it's always like this,

the cave sighing from the center

of the earth, the railroad harp-strung

and reeking of oil, the highways

too dangerous, villages ripe

with expensive retirees. I worked

awhile tending bar for the ski crowd

and made a modest fortune in tips.

Then she turned her face away

and everything became the color

of snow. I took my haircut hair back

to the city, but the cold breath

of the mountains had filled me,

Hank Williams and Patsy Cline

still haunting the airwaves, the wax

on my old Chevy still gleaming,

and Eisenhower still golfing

as the train rattles north to Rutland

and the bedrock crumbles like cake.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, 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, Notre Dame Review, The Alembic, New England Quarterly, Harvard Review, Modern Philology, Antioch Review, Natural Bridge.

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