While Painting a Fall Landscape, I Imagine
Andrea O'Rourke

drifting off on this bed of fallen leaves,
          eye-level with a birch branch bowed low,
     the end of its gold limb dipped

into the creek, reflections both in and out
          of focus, angled, but softer than Duchamp’s Nude.

Startled awake, I wonder if thoughts
          can be harbingers. Did mine, just moments ago,
     sense this unexpected presence?—

this knowing face suddenly leaning
          across the canvas, peering from the trees,

its bottomless gaze emerging
          from the wet skin of burnt sienna
      and linseed oil. Is this how you come back?

Your portrait paints itself? The creek
          starts to ripple now, then swirls into a rush

of soapy water, into that morning
          of your silhouette darkening the shower curtain,
      and the watch coming off my wrist. 

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