Ansatz: Confronting a Still Life

I. 

 

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. 

 

II. 

 

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 

reveal preference. 

 

III. 

 

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.