Still Life, With Gloxinia

Brenda Shaughnessy

I will make something of you both pigment
and insecticide. Something natural,
even red, like serviceberries.
Which a cloister of young Benedictine
nuns, in exile and drought,
found and brilliantly crushed
into a blessed moxie wine.
With terrible pride, with gloxinia,
the slipper-shaped flower, served
it bitter and staining in the chalice.
By evening chapel, habits thrown up
and still, their insides found all blue,
as suspected, I am cold now and I cannot
paint or move you.

Brenda Shaughnessy is the author of six poetry collections, including Tanya and The Octopus Museum. The recipient of awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute, and elsewhere, she teaches at Rutgers University-Newark.
Originally published:
April 1, 1998


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