Issue 9 :: Summer 2007 
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Dale McLain

still life with forced perspective

When you painted split pomegranates
laid upon a scarred oak table, heavy
with the corpses of small animals
and a slaughtered swan, its long neck,
a heavy rope, curved and coiled
upon itself, I never moved.

I watched as you dipped
your sable brush into smears
of ocher, crimson, Prussian blue.
Beyond the window the world tilted
on a weakened axis, but in that room
there was only the canvas
and the colors you chose
to apply with a balanced hand
and a precise, unforgiving eye.

No breeze fluttered the scene.
The light fell as you decreed.
You caught the dull glint
of a late day sun on a pewter cup.
The frosty skins of violet grapes
were captured layer by layer
and a quince was fixed in time
in a ripeness perched on the rim
of rot. I wondered who had gathered
the thistles and plums that rested
in unlikely harmony
and a beauty that sang.

I must have breathed,
for I am here now
recalling three russet apples,
white feathers splayed
like a paper fan,
the door locked,
the room silent,
on the day you painted me.

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