Still Life

A cactus plant a calendar: a bust

Of David, after Michelangelo,

Shaped by myself, unfinished, eyes made just

Too small; and thus that poet-king’s regard

Is more intense than I might wish to know -

All on the window-sill, where I discard

Bent paper-clips, where bottled ivies glow.


What does the sunlit cactus signify

That thrives in gravel, almost waterless?

Is there some arid symbol here, which I

Might nurse into a flaunting desert rose?

No, cactus still is cactus. Each can guess

Its meaning - how that starlike flower grows

In soil unsaturated by success.


The calendar takes time to scan aright.

Those days ahead - what lambs do they count

In which the music of my life takes flight

And rises like a bird inside the glass

That lets a shifting dust-reduced amount

Of sunlight in? What days of work must pass,

With poems to please and poems to disappoint?


Lastly, my sculpture, sun-baked, incomplete:

The aureole of curls too tightly turned.

Keen-eyed, yet still majestic, glances meet

My look of pleasure that so much came true.

The sculptor’s satisfaction lingers, earned

By courage at the start, for when the new

Skill seemed impossible, it still was learned.


Now Mozart’s music plays while I write on.

Those window objects have the curtain drawn

Between them and this room - the sunlight gone

Into a haze of winter. How to match

The meaning of such hidden things? The fawn

Is not so shy. And I shall sooner catch

The shadow of its antlers flecked with dawn.