The French call these paintings "Dead Nature."
The optimistic English pretend
they're "still life," merely playing dead.
In either language the paint itself
will drift away by molecules
as time draws its tithe from imagined fruit.
Takes eons, maybe, but that fine wineglass
cracks, the glint of light on its rim
goes dim, the apples and peaches piled
in the pretty Dresden bowl will age
like the sweetness in actual fruit, the painter's
models, browning into space.
These emblems, stilled, suggest to our eyes
(that flicker even as they gaze)
a certain metaphysical shimmer,
a sort of religion of permanence
that takes time's power out of the picture,
claiming something vivid stays.