the shape shifter

droplets on pine needles

When I see two Siamese cats,
bookends on the porch,

when I find two stoves boiling
spinach in the kitchen,

when I meet myself pulling weeds
out of the garden,

I know it must be Célia, and
she’s switched herself again.

At the start of her condition, it was
little more than polka dots at parties,
but soon she was shifting shape
by shape, and she hardly ever
matched our wedding photos.

We went to see a chameleonic
specialist, who mumbled his professional
opinion while he paced around his office—

It’s Célia’s imagination, I’m afraid.
She has too much by far, and now
it’s on the outside, when it should be
on the inside.

He recommended aspirin as placebos,
and gave her YouTube links to
reality yoga classes, to be
followed every day.

More reality and less imaginality,
that must be your slogan,
he muttered as he showed us out.

Now she’s on the mend, and the
other night we dined together—
two normal people seated at
a normal table, with candles
and matching spinach pies.

But today I feel off-color, a shade
of polished walnut with rococo
trimmings. Aspirin might be
difficult to swallow, and yoga
isn’t likely.

It seems imagination is
contagious. I would never
have imagined that.

I’m not sure the specialist actually said ‘imaginality.’ It was hard to hear.


droplets on pine needles

extended version, deleted scene

You know what I saw at sunset,
Célia? Wind riders on their
crêpe paper stallions, with their
wind dogs chasing behind.

She waved a forkful of spinach at me.
Now let’s not be silly, darling.

14 thoughts on “the shape shifter

  1. I’m happy you ended on an optimistic note, catching the imagination, rather than being told you’re silly. What made you delete the scene?

    I hope we can all be saved from chameleonic specialists.

    • The (incomplete) idea was to show the protagonist becoming more imaginative and Célia, more realistic. I always write way too much and cut whatever I can, my ideal length would be 4 verses or so. I also deleted a tragic scene with wood-ducks watching television, where the protagonist couldn’t identify Célia, turned out she wasn’t one of them :). I think we’re fairly safe, it’s a rare condition.

    • Your pieces are entire worlds, like mini-novels. They are so perfect, I’m sure you spend lots of time refining them. I enjoy them so much!

    • Yes, I read that all art is the intention to create something to be appreciated in itself, and then creating it with imagination. So no art without imagination.

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