allison mcvety | still life
Poetry Ribbon

still life

William Scott RA (1913-1989)

In Scott, absence is always the thing to cling to.
It hangs in the air, an echo draped on a hook
behind the door, where a coat should be. But look again –
the pan is not cold, the fish are not wasted.
What’s not there affects what is. We are caught between
frames, where something has happened, something will happen.
In this moment of ordinariness, the furniture rests
back into itself and you might almost miss the shape of him,
how he lingers in the hole he made when he left;
not actually painted, but residual in the load
of the paint, like he’s stepped out into the yard to hush
the dog that barks at the cat. He’ll come back, break eggs,
watch the transparent glaze to white, splash the yolk
with lard, eat straight from the pan so as not to spoil
tomorrow’s composition. The yellow will run, paled
at the touch of hot fat, but still yellow on black on black –
the layers of old ground that season the pan.

Published in the night Trotsky came to stay