After Contour series by Ashleigh Ninos
A small paper boat sails a knot of rivers up to their inky mouths. Under those rivers, the blush of more rivers. Trace them with your fingers and they disappear back into earth soft and full of clay, like history. Say mouth because it’s an ending, the last word. Say moorings because they are so easily lost—a boat floating, empty, down some forgotten tributary. What matters but the water, here, and its uncountable inhabitants. A palmful yields a million unseeable swimmers with only one thought. Alluvial, the water carries everything on its back, the bracken and the otter, silt and sediment, sifting naturally down through shafts of light, waterborne.
The Empty Table
After Trent Call’s oil painting
The table is empty in the way an intake of breath is a sentence, almost, hanging, perceptible in the air. Shall we sit? Will the orange rub off on our arms, leave us corrosive, coppery? High above a window to a room, where back and forth, women wander in long dresses that sweep dust from the floors. Green fronds like arachnid limbs swell in the heat. Somewhere, a guttural laugh rises up from the floorboards, an earthly tremor. The clinking of silverware and porcelain against itself. It is both history and portent all at once: a coming storm stirring up the aroma of summers.
After Dilution Test by Jaq Chartier
Lyrical lines of color dripping down: a chemical skyline. Polychrome skyscrapers we are building cell by cell by cell. Replication repeating, round and rust-colored like a copper roof leaking water. Round windows we can’t see through. Shape-shifters. Fulcrums foisting sediments, hefting hues from here to here. Here we go—color us startling and unstable. Color us light fast and fading in the future.