KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 6: Fall 2016
Tanka Prose: 308 words


by Janet Lynn Davis

They say humans need rituals; the two of us have a handful of our own. For example, every time it rains, as if our happiness depends on it, we check the skinny plastic gauge that’s set in the plant bed outside our back door. First, we may go back and forth with each other, making predictions about the water level. In the case of an extended rain, we may check the gauge multiple times, keeping track of and adding up all the separate readings. Perhaps, I tell myself, that’s not so terribly unusual for an engineer/statistician and a technical writer/editor to do, each fixed on precision when it comes to certain things.

Last year, a weekend of nearly nonstop rain followed a summer of drought. After the first good dousing, there I was, no surprise, taking a reading, then tilting the gauge to empty the collected rainwater. With it, a thin little green creature, which I later figured to be an American tree frog, silently slid out. Ah, okay. After the second dousing, I repeated the procedure; again, the frog slid out, though I wondered if it should have learned its lesson the first time. Then, one more time, the same thing.

Eventually, it occurred to us our readings were inaccurate. “We have to take the frog into account,” my husband announced. “Yes,” I sighed, vaguely recalling middle-school science class. But just how much water does a tiny amphibian with bulging bright-red eyes displace? It wasn’t feasible at this point, we quickly concluded, to make such a determination. So without further ado, and feeling vaguely liberated, we simply lopped off about an eighth of an inch from each measurement, our grand total for the soggy weekend coming to eight and three-eighth inches.

of this spice and that
in each pot—
my imprecision
becomes an art form


—First-Place Winner, KYSO Flash HTP Writing Challenge


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