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Still Life With Pitcher, Silver Platter
Silver is too simple. After all,
it's an element. That's why
just looking at it is almost enough
to reduce it to the merest twinkling
in air, about to vanish unless traces
of tarnish (complex impurities) sustain it.
Glass too--without the rich enamel glaze,
simply silicon--is too simple to survive
the eye. But fabric, lemons, onions, potatoes,
tomatoes--these are organic, intricate;
with them the eye is in its element:
Fruits and root-bulbs are alike nodes
of digested light and darkness, stuffed
to bursting with a meaty mingled pith
of sunlight scarfed up by leaves
and moist darkness sucked from soil
by pale root tentacles--
almost what we think we are,
the eye's chemistry our digestion
of light and shade, stuffing us
instant by instant with nourishing images--
but these pile up, never leaving us,
while our digestive system tastes
these lemons, onions and potatoes,
then deconstructs them in our guts
to elemental bits of light and dark--
but you and I, we are not organs
or orbs stuffed with images
or the waste of digested images.
We're the ones who see what we have made.
When my eyes meet your eyes
and look into them, past the twinkle
I see nothing. What then are we?
We must be simpler than silver.
October 6, 2002