Momentary Still Life
Angles of patterned cloth,
Dried summer blooms against the wall
Echo the mounting call
Of migrant birds. A fragile moth
Holds to its wavering way,
Threads through the clambering stems. A vase
Fills in, till full. I see no grace
Visible in the present day
As tensions tighten, and
We make our tracks in shifting sand.
Artists paint air, but warily —
Motes on a table, making dust
May rise, caught up within a gust
Of wind. This movement, curiously,
Disturbs the surface evenly
But does not shake the sacred trust
Of pattern, or break through the crust
Of static time. Eventually,
In its good time, but sparingly,
The dust comes down, because it must
And those of us who share a lust
For looking, paint what air we see.
In the Backyard with Some Friends
A gate within reality
Exists between two times.
Selective in the things we see,
We flourish in such climes.
Umbrellas of absurdity
Protect from the mundane,
Wedged on the fine dividing line
Of past and future rain.
As apples, silver shells become
Embellishments on sand
From out of history figures come
Across this little land.
Balancing Some Colors
White wings around a narrow, painted spot,
Skim past each broken arch of stems, and rot
Which lies upon your heart will have no weight,
But flash like gold as autumn’s rays abate.
Sometimes a heavy color drags you down —
The pressure of a phthalo blue, or brown —
Heavy as mountains, stern and ponderous;
The opposite of lavender’s faint brush.
A half an ounce of pink, a pop of blue
Distracts, but in a pleasant way. Once you
Discover weightless bittersweet, orange-red,
The rose and purple hyacinths, now dead
And mummified, you’ll plan to paint more blooms
When you remove to heavy cloistered rooms.
A whirligig flew by, winged colored band.
We watched it as it tumbled in the air,
Its colors blurring; we admired it,
Wondering how it came to be just where
We were. But still we lingered, cool and fanned,
Two giants sipping drinks without a care,
Hoping to catch it off guard, see it flit —
Closer to us. We reached to touch it there,
In fear, its colors shrank from bright to bland.
The moment passed — there was a mutual glare.
And then it flew, escaped the probing hand —
But shivered in the scalpel of our stare.
Image: F. A. Brandel, A trompe l’oeil still-life of a fox, a pheasant, a pigeon, a partridge, thrushes and snipe hanging from nails with a moth and a fly, last quarter of 17th century