Ansatz: Confronting a Still Life
Will I eat the rotting apple before me.
Is that why you left it, inclining toward
the blank-faced compass, oblique to
the violin missing a string in spilled
wine from the overturned chalice,
pooling at the chipped carapace
of a turtle. And whose skull is that,
also chipped, also slow on the cloth.
Am I obliged of this cluster to pluck
the fragile ones. Just as in the anatomy
of woman every station must have
its briny tubes. Just as in the anatomy
of choice every action need not have will
behind it which is to say choice does not
in the penumbra of utility
But I want to engage. Want to tell
you all I have learned about will
in the intervening years.
If I peel the apple I can soak it in
vinegar, carve out a face and
leave it to dry in the sun.
Let it shrink into a head
swathed in the tablecloth
shrouded in shouldness.
Perhaps it will remind me
of normativity. Or of
the grace with which we used
to put one foot in front of the other
to walk or of the inertia that has since
filled in the roads around us.
Reminders, remainders, remedies—
have I solved your tangram,
did I play the right game,
my scarecrow is small but vain
as I am—void, pour, drain—
the difference is its flesh,
which is now preserved—
my scarecrow will remain
on this table in this foyer
until you move it, which know-
ing you will be when you tear up
a letter you believe you never
received. I will believe the same.