The Alligator That Got Away by William Doreski

The Alligator That Got Away

If the Freudian dark should part
I’ll explain my dream. I lost
my car, my ’61 Comet,
by parking and forgetting it.

You find this unamusing but
I left my alligator dozing
in the back seat. Now it’s hungry,
and whether in dream or in life

a hungry alligator matters.
You pity starving animals,
but deny that I’ve ever owned
an alligator, and wouldn’t

leave it in a car junked long ago.
On this polished August Sunday,
breezy and green as the Everglades,
any past is possible. In dream

I deployed the police in search
of my car, their bright young faces
being coins freshly minted
at the local police academy.

Too raw to carry guns or clubs,
they were strictly search and rescue.
They’re still browsing the back roads
in search of my rusty old car.

They’ll search until they’re old
and tired of police work.
Deep into retirement they’ll talk
of the alligator that got away.

You insist there was no creature
left snoozing on the back seat,
that even in dream I’d never
abandon a helpless animal.

The air tastes brilliant today.
Let’s park the car and walk.
We’ll remember where we left it,
and when we return, we’ll find

my alligator cuddled in the back seat,
smiling with a full belly,
and tatters of blue uniform
snagged on professional teeth.

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

Image Credit: Alligator skin [needpix.com]