Oiseau et Poires, Villa de Poppée - Intercollegiate Studies Institute

Oiseau et Poires, Villa de Poppée


     What were they thinking, painters of frescos,
     owners of villas floundering
     toward decoration? The masterpieces
     scraped from volcanic muck rarely possess

     a trompe l’oeil that would send a man
     to pluck an iris or flail away at a wasp.
     Take the greenfinch, as it probably was,
     stealing toward a scatter of ripe pears,

     preserving more life than the plaster
     casts of Pompeiians, horrors cursing
     the gods or just gasping for breath.
     Pompeian red, as it came to be called,

     washed the decaying backdrop
     for the finch’s forever interrupted
     foray into the kitchen store, beak
     almost touching the forbidden fruit.

William Logan is the author of Dickinson’s Nerves, Frost’s Woods: Poetry in the Shadow of the Past.

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