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Poetry

Pieter Claesz, 1641

Such an austere palette! Such an embarrassment. Such riches!
A flute of currant-red liquid,
—-black and red currants in a silver bowl, rhyming
red beads on the lacquered finish of the fork-and-knife set, a red
—-and black string (the sole blood
——-coursing through this body, save a flush of the wall left russet where
———–the light greets
——-shadow, color and form rhyming like mind, maybe:
———–one cracked nut’s exposed meat.)

The central fowl, perched prone, lifts its glazed breast, wing at its side (like mine),
its feet uncannily human
—-fingers. Some vine leaves rise extending laterally
from the currants’ bowl. Glare slides past the shadow the silver
—-server throws, its spout a
——-sea-serpent’s head, the handle’s final fin Neptune’s dolphin. Bread rolls
———–form eyes or
——-one small o where they’ve been parted (what the skull shows
———–in another painting).

The timepiece, a cross, has three cases: one gold outside, inside black;
the next, crystal, with a gold lip:
—-its light source shines in it, a small globe; the last’s gold
through and through, time’s workings bright beads (on black string, a gold key-flag).
—-What’s drawn me to stand here
——-so long docents clip-clop back ascertaining I’ve done no mischief:
———–Master Claesz
——-in black reflecting on the silver pitcher while
———–pondering, brilliant windows

over his right shoulder, our white tablecloth-cloud spread before him.
 —Three goblets, globed, and one carafe
 —-throw two long windows shuttered, bent like dropped wafers
in honey water, white-topped, muted gold below, split (like faces).
—-It’s all on the money:
——-The crisp tablecloth, still creased, like the silk white one Mother ironed,
———–this proper
——-allegory of gluttony: salt cellar
———–with a base made of three

silver pillars topped with three beads, standing over the true Christian
wayfarer, golden, with his sword
—-of truth in hand, his breastplate of righteousness clasped
in the other, as if beholding this feast in pure equipoise
—-triumphant, the salt piled
——-above him is all truth purely, the light of the whole world, reflected
———–everywhere,
——-without which Claesz might not have seen to see through his
———–acquisitive, rich eye.

 


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