(after an artwork by Samuel Van Hoogstraten)
How we like this eavesdropping with alternating eyes,
and how he planned just what we’d see from either side.
The dog would always be looking at us, the cat, arching its back,
and the conspiratorial busts were above all this, either fixed
or floating, depending on where you were. That tame hawk,
poised at the open cage door is too timid to fly and the putti
snuggle into their wings for comfort. He’s dropped a letter on the stairs.
Does it hold clues? And the key, out of reach, tantalises.
It’s meant to. I’m speaking with insider knowledge.
You thought that was me at the table, cornered by men
in tall hats. You thought it was me who mopped those tiles where shadows
are slopped like dirty water. How we like this eavesdropping,
my sister and I, to see them frozen in mid-squabble about where
we’ve gone. The artist winks, at how he’s trapped them, how he’s set us free.