Robert B. Shaw
is the Emily Dickinson Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College.
His latest books are Blank Verse: A Guide to Its History and Use
(Ohio University Press), and a poetry collection, Aromatics
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An Arrangement of Dried Flowers
What was it that our friend said?
“Bad feng shui.”
They’re off-putting, looking dead
but not all the way.
Odors among which waded
are gone from these odd-shaded
The yellows brought to a halt
short of rust,
the whites brittle as rock salt,
hardened pinks—all must
cast more of a charm on some
that does not regard as glum
Give suchlike to the long-range
cabined lightyears, seeking change
from what flesh has wrought;
or to kings tucked in stone sar-
whose fine linens daubed with tar
keep their tissues dry.
For us, though, these arrested
an old thought: time, unbested,
wants each sprig drier.
And who cares to recall that
draining softness, scent, all that
even as we speak? . .