Still Life No Longer

Today I decided to enlist some help, so as to make the challenge a little more exciting: I presented my significant other with a selection of postcards and I asked him to choose one for me. Negotiating his way through various skull-featuring pictures (you’ll see!), he finally settled on a reproduction of the painting The Poulterer’s Shop by Frans Snyders, which I had bought some time ago, on a visit to Cardiff. “Let’s see what you can do with this!” he said, so here goes my attempt at some ekphrastic poetry. (Just as a side note, the painting was, apparently, first meant to be a still life, over which the flirtatious scene was subsequently painted.)

Image (57)Image (58)

The Poulterer’s Shop

Breaking the monotony
of fowl, cold meats, garden greens
arrested in their not-yet-visible decay,
much better to have the ruffled pelt
of an old satyr hooking his last folly
into the knowing shadows under the fawn’s
eyes. There is enough of memento mori
in the routinely clanking pots and pans,
in the reed baskets waiting to be emptied
and then filled again, in the cosy smiles
hung out to dry.
The canvas knew this, the oils knew it,
and they knew the struggle for life,
and the mould of the clay skull
beneath it.

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