They’re meant for aspens and dense brush,
idle fields gone tall with weeds, then the gun
and tables laden with cakes and silver goblets,
glinting grapes and knives, but someone’s interrupted
their trajectory, so grouse and pheasant playact
life in the museum, ignoring their companion
study skins laid out, breast-up, on shallow shelves
like pre-Raphaelite girls about to drown.

Elsewhere, still life: dead things painted dead
in a room that could be any dark room,
the bounty receding over a marbled surface:
ruddy apples and late hydrangeas, careless
pears scattering toward the big mallard,
whose one orange foot is a right hand softly pointed
because someone’s hoisted it up for effect,
balanced it against the white strike of the wing.