Sketch for a Still Life with Saxophone

What a quaint notion—that life
could be anything but kinetic, frenetic,
in full swing! But let’s have
a galvanized steel bucket of ice
sent up & see what happens.
Something to gleam.
And then for the glimmer,
a wooden bowl of felt-
&-plastic fruit on
a low table. But
for the proper contrast, for corners
appropriately dark, Japan’s
the place: the traditional-style
half of a hotel suite, say,
in a seaside resort just
beginning to fall on hard times.
The once-full register showing
alarming gaps, the heat
turned off in the hall . . .
but still not a speck of dust!
Simply an air of genteel poverty
essential to the timeless equipoise
of things in their rightful places

(as the Great Learning might put it)
from the imitation paper windows
to the Zen-inspired alcove with scroll
& spray of blossoms
to the thrumming of some distant
power source—a drone as melancholy
as any chorus of autumn crickets.

Let the uncorked chardonnay
take what it needs of oxygen & light.
Let nothing discompose
this most exotic
of guests: the saxophone
resting in the corner
like a golden carp.
See how at home it looks?
Ready for the oddly missing shoe
to begin tapping.


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