Still Life

The old masters
Would layer their painted tables
With plates and goblets,
With succulent things,
Fruits bursting with nectar,
Jewels burning still after the breath of centuries,
Useless, beautiful things from exotic shores.

The old masters would interrupt the riot
Of rendered linen and glaze with
The brute grace of a skull.

“All this will end,” they said, “All is vanity.”
As if to convince our living eyes,
As if to deter our flesh from being in love with flesh.
As if pleasure should ever kneel to piety.
“This is vanity,” some still say.
As if to convince me
As if to deter me from authoring my own story.

I have heard this from every old master, every old father.
Every one – I now ignore.

Why waste pleasure?
This is all we’ll ever have.

Why attempt to please something that’s not there?
Why send your love into emptiness?
Why pray to unending silence?
Why try to love a man that doesn’t see you?
Why waste your life on the specter of a marble god
And try to please his dead, dead eye?

The old masters never bargained
On a woman like me.

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