Vanitas with Weather Eye keep a sharp lookout cloud syzygy rail tie schoolbell creek but here’s a table laid by artful hands fossil coral honey comb paper weight budget skull shelled acorns floral roasted keyboards a solitary hornet tests mercury veins in your feet alewives falling from the sky dive
Vanitas with Whether I choose to recall fragrance of apples fontanelle-soft lingers in empty bags crushed cabbage moth greases the page tableau vivant the grapes are glass where vinegar drips a pendant web set your skin as ornament how harps accord strawberries to February now the first person I brought to bed is an undertaker
From the author: These poems are part of a series of paired poems, all with “vanitas” in the title. Each pair is linked by wordplay, image, or sound. The series is, I hope, in conversation with the vanitas tradition in painting.
Carolyn Oliver is the author of The Alcestis Machine (Acre Books, forthcoming 2024), Inside the Storm I Want to Touch the Tremble (University of Utah Press, 2022; selected for the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry), and three chapbooks. Her poems appear in The Massachusetts Review, Copper Nickel, Poetry Daily, Shenandoah, Beloit Poetry Journal, 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, At Length, and elsewhere. She lives in Massachusetts, where she is a 2023-2024 Artist in Residence at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Her website is carolynoliver.net.