Jigsaw Puzzles


The grocery store has more than groceries: jigsaw puzzles, two for six dollars. There are a thousand pieces each with sharp colored pictures of nature on the box, red and blue macaws, black and white orca, violet lepidoptera, and tropical peaches glowing in the sun. If you slice open the boxes you can make the picture yourself. I wonder what happens if there is a box without a picture on it, fragments of cardboard and pigment in a clear plastic bag?

On rosebush made bare by winter, there was the shape of a seahorse in plastic bag blown there by wind, somebody’s ill kept garbage. They emptied the contents of vegetables, consumables instead of interlocking functions. Walking down the sidewalk in February, a trick of the mind and eye can make a body see seahorses in the middle of empty branches. A black Labrador running across the lawn in summer can become a black plastic bag blowing across the snow in winter.  Or as the leaves twist in dust devils of autumn: squirrels chasing each other out of the corner of vision.

Cedar bark beds, wet with spring steam in the sun, only Canadian Thistle and Milkweed grow through black plastic underneath. The smell of chips is lively like an old growth forest with rotting heart. A past landlord covered the vacant lot to make it easy to care for. He was an old retired farmer. The landscaping cannot hide the life beneath.

The atmosphere changes. The trembling of green poplar leaves, trees planted in a row against the blue sky, signals the change of night to day. Wind-breaks motion is the shudder of a spine caused by the chill of darkness warming into sunlight of dawn. In the half light, starling nesting under rafters or bats snagging insects between the silhouettes of trees become pterodactyls hunting fish on some ancient shoreline.

Seeing is like that. Sometimes the whole picture is on the box, sometimes in visions. But mostly, it comes in pieces from a torn plastic bag without a picture set loose in the world and hung up in a naked tree.


taken from “Some Notes on 21st Century Sorcery”, first published online through Triond.com, 2015.


About johnsmithiiimxiii

John Smith, IIMXIII is the avatar of an award winning poet, artist, etc. who still lives in the Palouse country of the Pacific NW. He has not received much notice with his prose . . . but as his avatar, I hope that he keeps plugging along.

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