Someone arranged them in 1620. Someone found the rare lemon and paid a lot and neighbored it next to the plain pear, the plain apple of the lost garden, the glass of wine, set down mid-sip— don’t drink it, someone said, it’s for the painting. And the rabbit skull— whose idea was that? There had been a pistol but someone was told, no, put that away, into the box with a key though the key had been misplaced now for a year. The artist wanted light too, for the shadows. So the table had to be moved. Somewhere I dreamt the diary entry on this, reading the impossible Dutch quite well, thank you, and I can translate it here, someone writing it is spring, after all, and Herr Muller wants a window of it in the painting, almost a line of poetry, I thought even then, in the dream, impressed with that "spring after all," that "window of it" especially, how sweet and to the point it came over into English with no effort at all as I slept through the night. It was heavy, that table. Two workers were called from the east meadow to lift and grunt and carry it across the room, just those few yards. Of course one of them exaggerated the pain in his shoulder. Not the older, the younger man. No good reason to cry out like that. But this was art. And he did, something sharp and in the air that one time. All of them turning then, however slightly. And there he was, eyes closed, not much more than a boy, before the talk of beauty started up again.
Marianne Boruch - 1950-
Everyone should have a little fugue, she says, the young conductor taking her younger charges through the saddest of pieces, almost a dirge written for unholy times, and no, not for money. Ready? she tells them, measuring out each line for cello, viola, violin. It will sound to you not quite right. She means the aching half-step of the minor key, no release from it, that always-on-the-verge-of, that repeat, repeat. Everyone should have a little fugue-- I write that down like I cannot write the larger griefs. For my part, I believe her. Little fugue I wouldn't have to count.