In the Avignon studio, the painter spreads
rabbit-skin glue across the surface
of rough linen to prepare his canvas,
while, downstairs in the brick kitchen,
the rabbit’s haunches roast,
spitted on branches of rosemary.
Broad beans with garlic, chickpea pancakes,
tiny silver fish fried in oil.
Around the table, wine, conversation of friends,
the next commission sought,
hope pungent as aioli
in which slim green beans are dipped.
The painter gnaws the rabbit’s femur; the cook
flings bones into the courtyard’s well.
The tooth marks will last longer than the tang
of garlic in his mouth,
longer than his love for the cook,
longer than their flesh,
or the cracking surface of his portrait of her body,
lead white and cochineal.
Roberta P. Feins lives in Seattle, Washington, and works as a computer consultant. She received her MFA in poetry from New England College in 2007. Her poems have been published in the Antioch Review, Five AM, and Floating Bridge, among others. She edits the e-zine Switched On Gutenberg (www.switched-ongutenberg.org).
“Ars Longa, Vita Brevis” appears in our Autumn 2012 issue.