Register Saturday | September 24 | 2022

Still Life

Karma in New York reopens its gallery with

(Nothing But) Flowers, a collection of still lifes. 

Scrolling through the exhibit online, I’m 

desperate for outsize tulips, Nasturtium in a 

Green Glass, the offhand intimacy of lilacs in 

water. I settle for ordering the catalogue and

make do with whatever’s local.


To paint a flower: contained or set loose, 

interior or no interior, a flattening or a 

spectacle? The idea of improvisation as a kind of

conscientious reminder of how fragile everything is,

how unstable and unknowable.


When the catalogue arrives, I make a daily 

thing of flipping to a random page and 

observing what’s there: sill, table, mirror, 

bevelled glass, dotted red and pink pitcher,

marble figure, linen napkin folded and placed

under a mason jar, knife with a wood handle, 

beetroot, big potted palms, stones, shadows, 

dusk.


A petal drops from the real. A hand flings the 

spent bunch out the window to co-mingle with

the other discards. Within a day, a fresh 

arrangement assembles in the vase.

Sheryda Warrener’s third collection of poetry, Test Piece, is forthcoming from Coach House Books this fall. She lives on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded land of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations, where she is a lecturer in poetry and interdisciplinary forms in the School of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.

The italicized lines are drawn from Faux Pas: Selected Writings and Drawings by Amy Sillman.