Published on: 2/10/2010
They were learning to draw. I brought metal objects there
so that each one had his own reflective, solitary still life.
I asked them to pick a familiar item of silverware
they identified with most: fork or spoon or knife.
If I were a utensil I would be a sterling fish-knife: a tool
that no one uses any longer; archaic, obsolete.
How select would the restaurant be? how cool
and elegant a dinner-party to serve both meat
and fish, providing for each course its special setting;
as ridiculously delightful as a fingerbowl
or linen napkins folded into roses, regretting
that paper towels now fill either role.
I have no current employment or necessary use.
I need to be polished soon before I reflect
only darkness -- use a soft cloth and lemon juice;
you can leave the black residue in the depths,
the oxidation in the ornate crevices carved
deep into the gleaming handle of the knife.
Don't think about the ones who worked, and starved:
the nameless artisan, his unpaid bills, his child and wife,
those who bore the burden of that wealth upon their backs;
servants who labored to make it shine for all these years.
Don't worry about the tarnished shadows in the cracks:
the diners never get quite close enough to see or hear.