Poem by William Doreski

In the Sump Hole

In the sump hole creatures evolve
with sighs and tremors of disgust.
Hoof, paw, fin and neb, fur and scale—
every feature microscopic
but perfected by necessity.

I want to encourage these creatures
to grow large enough to examine
with the unaided eye, but fate
in the roar of the sump pump
frequently intervenes. Tonight
the spring Witches’ Sabbath occurs.

Maybe the wrong sort of prayer
addressed at midnight to forces
that usually remain discreet
would accelerate the process
and meld competing theories
of evolution and creation,
generating monsters large enough
to fondle or feed by hand.

Under the microscope some
of these creatures show human faces,
but with expressions too gnarled 
and complex to easily read.

If they grew to human scale
they’d probably accuse me 
of playing god by having dug
the sump hole to drain the underworld.
Other microbes resemble sheep,
camels, sharks, oxen, whales
but too tiny to survive beyond
the earthy soup of the sump hole.

I dump the contents of the well slide
back into the sump. Both creation
and evolution will have to do
without me, the ashen spring light
too thin to nourish intelligence
and the cries of nesting phoebes
too dogmatic for response.

About the author:

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His forthcoming 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.

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