Tromp L'oeil
Pamela Davis

Tromp L'oeil

I see you, little slip, gelatinous flash, fetus cast among lilies.
Monet painted this pond for thirty years, no matter
the hour or weather, dabbed the tip of his brush to mirror
the water’s reflections—blossoms, sun-lit silt, slivers of gloss.
Chill memory tugs me under

            a clandestine clamp
               scrape of silver spur
                  paper bag sagging with sick.

Changeling, splinter. I’ve spied you before in Turner’s bronze washes,
Seurat’s miniature prisms. Here, in the Impressionist’s world,
your double multiplies in the immaterial colors of water, clouds, sky.
Aqueous light rises as breath does, preparing to fall.
            I spy fingers, I spy toes—

For years, I’ve avoided your other doubles
            goldfish rounding carnival bowls,
                        primordial shapes in lab jars,
                                    huge heads bowed as prayer.

If I’d harbored you when the unformed limb bumped against my rampart,
            what then of your shimmer? What then of mine?

Of the father, all I remember are broad freckled hands,
straw-scented skin. The red bike he rode across the country
propped at my door. His red bike gone.
            Forgotten, the coupling. The primal song.

You understand, I had my reasons.

I study the pond’s nursery dapple of creamy yellows. Willows.
Skitterwings. Your tiny palms. I would have kissed them.

Pamela Davis

is the author of Lunette, which won the ABZ Poetry Award. A 2019 Pushcart nominee, she has contributed poetry widely, to such journals as New Ohio Review, Streetlight, Cimarron Review, Prairie Schooner, and Asheville Poetry Review