Second of Five
Two Page Openings from
The Way We Live
by Burt Kimmelman  

Wild Onions (After Robert's Letter)
For Robert and Elizabeth Murphy

I think if I were very old I
would want the wild onions growing in
my yard to take up housekeeping with
me — "their flower heads," once "bobbing
in the wind," poking from a jar as
they fade to a fine dust, so I might
see in them who I have become — more
lovely than I am in the morning
mirror where I glimpse who I once was.


The Deception
Still Life by Giorgio Morandi, 1955
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, 2008

How easily we settle
into the picture — some squat,
plain boxes and a long-necked
bottle— those simple objects
arranged together so he
might catch them in their soft browns
and yellows, and among them
an intransigent, opaque
white spot, but everywhere else
in the canvas black traces
he must have applied with the
most informal of brush strokes.

He means to discomfit us
yet we surrender ourselves
to these sure shapes assembled
as for a camera though
without occasion, nothing
to be done, since it is best,
he must have thought, once he knew
he loved to paint, to leave things
unspoken — the mute smears of
color, the bare ground of the
horizontal — a made world,
something of his stubborn craft.


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