By Peter Halstead

Our kitchen window, grimy with a season’s dirt
Nonetheless displays quite well the more inert
        And gaseous forms of matter on its glasses,
Sequins on the sky’s transparent skirt

Framed between the grey wood sashes
Of a dark December day, ash to ashes
            On the blurry cloisonné
That smears the outside world in patches

On the damp mascara of the window pane,
The sort of rouge beauticians feign:
            Mist and dust and condensation glue
Their eyes, their hardened eyes, to beauty’s stain

In lieu of landscapes stunned with dew
(Face the truth: beauty now is no more true
            Than art allows: our myopic sight remains
Fixed on pictures lesser talents drew),

The flashy hand of rouge and reddened light
Fleshed out with all these splashes of the night
            As might become a thing opaque
Or dense, a thing less white

Or lucid than a pane’s forgiving lake.
But hidden in the mural a mistake
            Betrays the squalid pallor of the lens
If only for the momentary sake

Of contradicting common sense:
Sun flicking through the makeup bends
            The soot to sequins, as a musty prism fakes
The jewels a comic forger makes.