Bonnie Riedinger

Trompe L’oeil –Not a Painting
August 13, 2018 Bonnie Riedinger

Trompe L’oeil –Not a Painting


From 30,000 feet
the boat in the bay is a comet
in the sea, which you could swear is the sky.
The wake is a tail of fire and steam
streaming into the current, but
presently, landing, we will see
the boat, the wake, and the water
for what we understand them to be,

and if we focus, the drawing is clearly
of a lady in a hat with a feather,
not a chow chow and
the crucified crow in the thorn tree
is a ragged remnant of plastic
struggling in the wind,
and the body on the side of the road
could be the pink fiberglass of insulation
or a heap of rags, just as much cast aside and away
as the body you thought you saw
before you looked away
because too often your first impressions are correct.

But sometimes you look too quickly,
sometime too long,
until the afterimage is all you can see.
Watch the shift of that man’s shoulders,
the slow turn at the sound of your voice–
someone who died resurrected—
until you recognize the stranger
standing before you.
Or you see your dog’s ears prick to the sound
of the bitch whining two streets away
as he lifts his nose to smell her heat
but later, drinking clear water from a gray bowl on a black floor
not seeing the red ceramic glaze on the bowl
or the yellow of the letters,
which if he could read, would spell D-O-G.

He, however, is never confused about his identity.
He is dog qua dog,
decidedly, doggedly chow chow
Never a lady in a hat with a feather.

In a play I saw a long time ago,
the actors yelled
over and over and over and over
until the words became
showing that if you say
something unceasingly,
it ceases to make sense.
At least in the original sense.

In our small, still life
I see the red wine you have poured for me
in the clear crystal glass and the green
apples on the yellow table.

I could almost caress your face.

My hand hovers for one slight moment
before I blink and cover my face
with the Sunday funnies,
nose to the Magic Eye,
breathing the acrid ink.

for the background to fade.
for the divergence.
for the resolution
to pop
or be punched from the page.
where it helps
to be too close

Bonnie Riedinger’s recent poems have appeared in the Southern Florida Poetry Journal and Zoomorphic. She has been a journalist and editor with non-fiction publications in numerous newspapers and magazines including the Writer’s Chronicle. She received her MFA from The Ohio State University and has taught creative writing at several colleges and universities.