poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘pareidolia


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pareidolia: the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern

(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)


When you look at marble, or at clouds in the sky, or bubbles in a glass of milk, do you see faces? Can you see The Man in the Moon? Pareidolia refers to the seeing of human faces or other images where they don’t exist. Pareidolia is a normal human tendency.


I often see images in the marble patterns of our flooring. It can be quite entertaining. Mostly, I see animals. I think it is the biologist in me!




Perhaps aliens also have pareidolia. In my upcoming book Meniscus: The Knife, I devote a chapter to this phenomenon. On planet Meniscus, there is a dirth of paper. One of my early characters, Ning, made paper from plant fibres for her girlfriend Kathryn, an artist. By Meniscus: The Knife, Book 8 in the series, (spoiler alert) only three sheets of Ning’s paper remain. Don-est, the alien child, wants to draw, so Kathryn shows her how to draw on the marble walls of the dwellings in the Village.



Vicki sets her laundry

on the marble floor.

Tries to see

what Don’est is doing.


As her eyes adjust

to smoky light,

she sees markings on the walls.

Drawings of bug-eyed evernells

and fuzzy elginards.

A slear-snake

with myriad eyes.

A cardoth moon,

slim sickle

of glowing white

in marble green.


Don’est feels eyes on her.

Swivels her neck.

“What do you think

of my drawings?”

she says.


“What are you doing?”

says Vicki.


“I asked Kathryn for paper

but she has only a sheet or two

of the paper Ning made.

“So she showed me

an idea she had.


“The marble walls,

you see,

have hidden secrets.

Lines and shadows

look like evernells

and Humans and slear-snakes

and grammid trees.”


Vicki looks

at faint green lines on the walls.

Sees an old man in the pattern.

A thready waterfall.

A leaf-bare tree,

branches reaching for sky.


“But what are you using to draw?”

she says.

Eyebrow pencil.

Kathryn and Ning

found it on a transport

long ago.”



All my best,

staying at home,

drawing on the floors and walls,


Written by jane tims

June 5, 2020 at 7:00 am

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