Like Exploded Speech Balloons

by William Doreski

Driving into a gauze of snowfall, I feel younger than I did at birth. The smile on the face of the landscape suggests how far the planet is willing to go to please me. But you look sullen in the passenger seat. You don’t think the elation of weather applies to you. Childhood on a simpler coast doused you in fog and blinded you to larger expressions in the Sierra Nevada. When the Donner Party learned about snow they realized that carnivores prowl in our depths and emerge on demand. You look as desperate and hungry as they did in their moment of apotheosis, but unlike certain religious people you avoid cannibalism even for the greater good. Not the politics now in power, however, self-devouring in full-length mirrors. Not the saw-toothed expressions of celebrities. No, the wit and wisdom of various ages converge in cloud-cover thick enough to conceal us from each other, at least for another term. Driving on these slick back roads doesn’t trouble me, but reading your pages as you turn them, reading out of the corner of my eye, distracts me so the blowing snow looks like exploded speech balloons. What were you saying? Speak up—the silence of the blizzard deafens me.

William Doreski teaches writing and literature at Keene State College in New Hampshire.


There's something sad and serious about this piece. It's unclear what the relationship between the driver and the passenger is, but it's because of that uncertainty that we can see ourselves in a similar situation, sometime in our own personal past, when a cloak of desolation draped over the scene.
Victor D. Sandiego, Nov 16, 2017