by Jaydn DeWald

Rolled out before us: a path of stain-resistant bronze. Tufted, hand-knotted, flat-woven, loomed. For walking across, bare- or sock-footed, holding a mug of warm milk. With viscose fringe. Geometric borders. Into which she would crush a tube of maroon lipstick. What patterns do you see? Map of sand dunes, map of riotous flowers. Where the harpist, at first light, contemplates his daughter—ghost-kneeler drawing eyes on tracing paper. Never mind creases or curled edges. Here lies a pair of new-carpet angels. To survey or transect. Dampen bootfalls or divide the room, splitscreen-style: He reclines in his La-Z-Boy; she lifts a dagger (for the
briefest moment her murderous, mascara-streaked gaze is reflected) in the dim light of their kitchen
. Acrylic, nylon, olefin, wool. Perfect for high-traffic areas, a lifetime of comings-and-goings. At the center of which he will meditate—white stone Buddha in a white stone palm. Casual and luxurious. “A whole new world.” And strands of her dyed purple hair can still be found there. Floor art or flat chart. Thicker than fog around the ankles. For children’s story hour: the better to conceal a trapdoor, my dear. What better smothers our tell-tale hearts?

Jaydn DeWald is the author of the essay collection Sheets of Sound (Broken Sleep Books, 2020), the cross-genre book The Rosebud Variations (Broken Sleep Books, 2021), and several limited-edition chapbooks, including common tones in haunted time (Salò Press, 2023) and A Love Supreme, winner of the 2019 Quarterly West Chapbook Contest. They are assistant professor of English and director of creative writing at Piedmont University in Demorest, Georgia, and serve as managing editor for COMP: an interdisciplinary journal.