KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 3: Spring 2015
Tanka Prose: 237 words

Signs of Water

by Pat Tompkins

After Saturday morning errands, Emily rewards herself with coffee in an oasis where a shallow stream pours over ledges and meanders under footbridges, linking fountains. She sits beside turtle and frog sculptures spouting water in a circle as jets pulse skyward, creating a song of splashes.

Dogs and their walkers pass by; bees work the foxgloves. Tall grasses sway and petals drift down a row of plum trees. Why anyone would prefer the noisy café instead is beyond her. A sylvan scene, except for several metal signs proclaiming “No water contact allowed.”

The passive-aggressive bureaucratic voice bothers her. Not “Don’t drink the water” or “This water is not potable.” Why forbid touching the water? Health and safety issues? A handy term to hide behind. Some kid slips on wet pavement, bangs his head, and parents sue the city. Someone sniffs a rose and gets stung. Even in a highly manicured landscape, danger lurks in nature.

Emily sips her coffee and sighs. The prohibition tempts her to pluck pennies from the fountains or wade in the stream. But she gives them their illusion of control. She watches the water ripple, its patterns changing with passing clouds. She hears music in falling water. And when the breeze shifts, a mist of spray tickles her. No contact is impossible.

an aquarelle
of a mackerel sky
the artist fails
to capture the moment
some things can’t be caught

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