What the Drawing Explains

By Jon Fischer

It’s hard to describe a drawing of a millennium,
but you know it when you see it

on a sticky note fallen to the speckled tile
near the lockers in a high-school hallway

It’s rendered half of the social commentary
inherent in a peach-colored crayon, half

of ablative carbon fiber and iridium dust,
the artist’s signature a sketch

of the human genome. This millennium is half past,
half future, neither all that great.

The drawing smells like a philosopher’s feet.
It tells a story that rises off the paper

and reads the palms of passersby, turning life lines
jagged and love lines into spirals. It tells a story

that sinks deep inside the paper, seizing
for its fibrous heart the best and most harrowing

plot twists. Nonetheless, the drawing explains
why the Nile changed course, why tornadoes

and the sea found fancier homes,
why we made no new religions

but let the ones we had grow brittle, why we still
lose languages and serenade machines

and can’t be bothered to speak with aliens.
There you are in the middle, anatomically accurate.

Built around you are a cathedral and a labyrinth
then skyscrapers and scaffolding, a rational galaxy,

a fleet of anxieties, ignorance
efflorescent in a waxing tide, and your personal

win-loss record. You do with the drawing
what fine art does to you,

folding it into a Möbius strip for later,
and also for earlier.


Jon Fischer has lived and worked in Japan, India, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Egypt since getting his MFA from Eastern Washington University. A native of Washington State, Fischer has had his work appear in The Seattle Review, Quarterly West, Willow Springs, Cimarron Review, and several other journals.

Originally appeared in NOR 29

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