Self-Portrait as a Fish

by John Ebersole

Two of the tires are gone.
The car tilts like a dog’s
head deaf to human wish,
and in the dirty shadow
of the car’s undercarriage
a license plate of a sunset
airbrushed and scratched,
little lacerating horizons:

out back a ping pong table
is going, its sagging net
trying to move as the wind
passes through it. A cloudy
Ziploc bag with a TV remote
inside is screwed to a sheet
of plywood half-warped
and cracked against a tree.

In the weeds a yellow jacket
soaks in motor oil that’s drifted
to one side of a pie-pan,
which has a welt in the middle
as if a child’s fist had made it:
an oily bug shines like chrome
as it scurries up a blade of grass
and I burst it between my fingers.

Long before today, in this house,
I crawled under a wicker table
searching for a pill stamped
with a dove that wasn’t there.
Fixed in the table’s center
was a wide pane of glass and
those around the table watched
as if I were a fish beneath
a glass-bottom boat, engine
cut, no one making a sound.

JOHN EBERSOLE was born and raised in Florida. After completing his MFA in poetry at Columbia University, he moved to the Philadelphia area with his wife and daughter. He is host of New Books in Poetry, a podcast where poets and critics discuss their latest work, and poetry editor of The Philadelphia Review of Books. His most recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review, Bateau, Coldfront, HTMLGIANT, Octopus, and Western Humanities Review. Currently, he is assistant professor of English at Chestnut Hill College, where he also directs the writing center.