July 5, 2014

The Still Lives in Season by Marianne Szlyk

Still Life with Asparagus and Red Currants

after Adriaen Coorte, “Still Life with Asparagus and Red Currants” (1696), “Still Life With Shells” (1696), “Shells” (1697), and “Asparagus” (1697) 
Against the black absence of all light, presence of all color,
the painter in late spring arranges a dozen asparagus,
chalky white flushed with green, and a branch of
currants as red and translucent as glass beads in sunlight.
Come summer, white and pink shells unfold
like flowers whose perfume tastes salty, not sweet
in this ripe and rotten season.  Dust hovers
over beetle-sized shells that harden and glint in the sun.
Winter’s white conch spirals away
from the speckled and striped, the mottled pink and brown,
and into the day’s light as thin and flat as a beach at low tide.
Absent all color, the conch points to the next season.

In spring, the painter again places white asparagus,
this time alone and enormous like an iceberg,
the lone survivor in its ocean, against
the same blackness as before.

Marianne Szlyk is an associate professor of English at Montgomery College and an associate poetry editor at Potomac Review.  Her poems have appeared in The Blue Hour Literary Magazine, The Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Storm Cycle 2013: The Best of Kind of a Hurricane Press, and elsewhere.  She has started a blog at http://thesongis.blogspot.com/

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