STILL LIFE (16th C. Dutch)

About Death they were never wrong, the Old Masters,
how it quietly sits in one corner of the canvas–
a skull, yes, old and burnished, golden
as a girl’s washed hair. It sits half-hidden
behind the elegant copper pitcher that mirrors
a full wineglass and some ripe grapes.
A cut lemon, a pearl-handled knife,
a napkin and a scatter of walnuts
surround a splendid, glistening fish,
Laid out on a pewter dish, its one
wild eye interrogates the scene.
Who cut the lemon-rind into spiral curls?
Who dreamt up this feast? Where are the guests?
Offstage, invisible, honing their appetites–
a skull the only human presence here,
silently marking Time.