Kim Roberts


In the Dutch and Flemish Still-Life Gallery

Based on the painting “Mound of Butter,” Antoine Villon, oil on canvas, 1875/1885, at the National Gallery of Art

At first, I think: an ocean cliff
rising out of cheesecloth foam.
Gold gleams against a black relief.
At first I guess some ocean cliff
then notice two eggs—little gifts,
rotund guardians of the home.
I misconstrued what seemed a cliff,
rising like a creamy dome.

Second thought: it’s sculptor’s clay
bisected by a wooden knife.
But here again I’m led astray
thinking butter is sculptor’s clay.
In some scaled-down, domestic way
a kitchen metaphor is rife
with wild ideas, like sculpted clay
bisected into larger life.

Kim Roberts is the author of A Literary Guide to Washington, DC: Walking in the Footsteps of American Writers from Francis Scott Key to Zora Neale Hurston (University of Virginia Press, 2018), and five books of poems, most recently The Scientific Method (WordTech Editions, 2017). She co-edits the journal Beltway Poetry Quarterly and the web exhibit “DC Writers’ Homes.” Roberts has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, HumanitiesDC, and the DC Commission on the Arts, and has been a writer-in-residence at 18 artist colonies. Poems of hers have been featured in the Wick Poetry Center’s Traveling Stanzas Project, on the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day Project, and on podcasts sponsored by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her website: