Still Life With Columns

For Diane Lewis

WALK UPRIGHT   COUNT TO TEN
DRAW A LINE       GO TO SLEEP
Syllabus atop a stool
Memento mori, unwillingly.

Yorick’s skull just now set down
(Like your hand once weighed ideas)
Warm erasers, smeared and dark
With residue of angel’s wings

Wood and steel and acetone
Bloodless, in the background
Nothing breathing, nothing cold,
Smoke escapes beyond the frame

(Sometime before, you fixed your eyes
Blasting forth that loving beam
Some lost limbs, were sliced like plans,
we lost our heads. New York burned down).

Shards of paint from fallen skies
If nine columns were to buckle,
Pushing out infesting life was
A nightmare you told us to have.

A headache in our gilded minds
Ideas, like voids, kick and scream
To be released from custody
back to mother’s arms.

Perfect stillness. Strain to think,
cease to be an architect,
fill the studio silence
which none of us admit:
that for this perfect still life
a frame of perfect death.

We wish we could continue
The same the same procession
That’s been performed since eighty two:
Us, in pointless black, weeping,
bearing monoliths with nothing inside
but ideas, nightmares, acute angels.

Bring this queen to her grave!, we sing,
Williams’ O mother of flames!, but
OMNIA CAMENAE IN VANITAS EST.
Now that you’re not here anymore
Will our world become… inhabited…
And everything unravel…?