The Evening of Greuze

John Ashbery

As a group we were somewhat vulnerable
and are so today. My brother-in-law has fixed
me a tower in the mill, from whose oriel
I can see the bluebottles who nag heaven
with their unimportance. But what are they expected to do?
Raise families? Become deacons? If so my calculations
collapse into bric-a-brac, my equations
are undone.

Across the road they are building a cement house.
It will seemingly have no windows. A columbarium
for cement pigeons. And ever as I talked to you
down the decades in my letters one thing was unsure:
your reply. Now we are again endangered,
like dead birds, and autumn’s ruby spittle mounts
in the sky like a tornado. Try to keep
cold and empty in this bare room.
Examine mirrors in the studio.
The lizard’s glint, the horse’s velvet blanket
will surprise you into veiled hope one day.