Our Friends from Sweden

Our Friends from Sweden

Simplified by violet snow
hillsides arch around the village,
critiquing our modest world.
Our friends have arrived from Sweden
to teach us good winter manners.
We in turn teach them coffee drinking

in the café where roughly sketched
citizens cluster for warmth and chat.
The day polishes itself gleaming.
Snow-blind drivers dent each other
in front of the post office where
legal disputes are common.

Our friends speak perfect English
but exclaim in lilting Swedish,
their faces clenched like asteroids.
How did we meet them? A dream
of travel to rickety windscapes
filmed in grainy black and white.

War had shucked over this terrain
and left burnt-out tanks and trucks
and a few unburied bodies.
The film clattered through an old
and misaligned projector. Shapes
came and went. Two women arose

from the cellar of a smashed house
and shook their fists at the camera crew.
We couldn’t distinguish dream from film
but we asked these women to step
into a third dimension and join us
in equally vague America.

The village tries to embrace them.
They may not be as real as us
but they retain that monochrome
of serious purpose even
when they laugh us back to our senses
and instruct us to ignore the cold.

William Doreski


William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Dogs Don’t Care (2022).  His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.