The floor covering—marbled pattern I measured, cut, laid down
15 years ago in our bathroom: sepia clouds inside squares.
One section now a strange glaring red where sun radiated
through the skylight.
If you look at it like a child seeking visions in a cumulus sky,
there's a fish lying on its side, no longer undulating
through the river—caught and beached, its weight
pressing a fragile, scaled image into the sand.
Outside the frame, the angler is already casting his line
back into the bubbling waters running through the morning.
Here's a human face, cumulo nimbus forehead, shadowy
indentation at the temple, the nose a hazy triangle, the mouth caught between opening and closing. The eyes impossible to decipher. Emptied of feeling after some terrible conflict with wife or lover? Hearts shredded by rage?
Or does he anticipate a crossroads, gazing through the heavens
to divine what steps he should take? He and she
living in parallel layers as they shear apart. Knowing
he may need to make an irreversible decision.
I glance in the mirror. When I look back at the sepia sky,
the face is gone.
© 1997 Phil Johnson