Still Life with Cabbage and Clogs, by Elisabeth Weiss
Nights, the artist and the cook
dream the same dream of blooming roots
in simple vessels, of blood pudding,
pails of cool water, cold milk.
All winter the chirr of the artist’s scissors,
his pencil marks erased, mistakes
on creamy Ingres paper.
The cook wears handkerchiefs,
feathers of earliest birds too weak to fly.
When the sharpened cleaver meets
the groove between
stalk and flowering head
obsidian clouds thrust forth.
Small particles coat the frosty air.
The cook warms herself with brandy.
Her granite fingers sigh.
She closes the shutters, mutters
strains and tosses, peels potatoes,
then staggers fireside, serves with honey
and salt on baked clay platters.
She thrusts her feet into wooden clogs,
removes her tattered linen apron
and steps outside the doorframe.
Each evening she feeds scraps to hogs
crisscrosses cow paths
tousling tufts of onion grass.
She walks past the cottage on the heath
the meadow, the elm trees in the churchyard,
the barn with the thatched roof
while the artist studies how
layers peel, bones discard,
and patterns of fields appear in
the eggshell cabbage sprawled wide.