Poetry Daily: http://www.poems.com/

Still Life as Oxymoron

There is no such thing in nature
where even the seemingly unmovable
rocks are performing
a slow erasure
into soil, and the bark
of trees teems with a cosmos
of insects who feed on its meat
while roots creep continually
deeper down toward water which
flows beneath earth far less solid
than it feels below our feet
where skin sloughs off cells
with every step, and above us
leaves transform light into color,
rustling branches that twist,
turn, rise toward a sky where clouds
accumulate and disperse to reveal a sun
whose light caresses fruit that ripens into
the original fruit that, as the story goes,
tempted us into the world we are
in, and of, now.
     Cezanne looked long enough
to realize this. So in his paintings
pears pulse, tables tilt on the verge
of tumbling out of the picture plane.
Bottles, bowls, ginger jars
all set on the edge of motion,
and an eerie pyramid of skulls
mimic his more famous mountain,
poised between becoming and un-
becoming—solid yet ephemeral
as the varieties of light
in which he captured it (or tried)
so we might see ourselves as simultaneous
stasis and action. Essential as apple.
The apple of our own eyes.

Grace Bauer

University of New Mexico Press

To view this poem online, visit the Poetry Daily archive at http://www.poems.com/archive.php
View a large-print version of this poem