Along the side of the road I found a silver goblet which had been used as an ashtray

Silver goblet, gouache by William Eaton, Sep 2018


Dedicated to my mother, Lyle Warner, and to an up-and-coming young artist: Adelaine Muth


Along the side of the road

I found a silver goblet

Which had been used as an ashtray.


The local museum was holding an opening reception

With the usual drinks and snacks

Including abnormally large green grapes.


With a toothpick I failed to spike a grape.

It rolled onto the floor.

A girl, unaware, stepped on it.


When I went to pick up the grape

It looked like a tire-flattened amphibian or, now that I think of it, like a certain green enamel, museum-store broach my late mother liked to wear.

I liked, too, the translucent shades of green.


I picked the grape up and wrapped it carefully in a napkin and an abandoned list of the art works that were on the walls.

I put the wrapped grape inside the goblet.

You could say that much of my mother’s life and particularly her last months, suffering from COPD, trying to end her life with morphine and other drugs, were a struggle.


When I was buying a card featuring another artist’s work,

I left the goblet on the museum’s front desk.

I was halfway up the mountain, on my way home, before I realized my mistake.


The next day I walked back down to the museum.

They had the goblet but had thrown out the papers containing the grape.

The woman behind the desk and I talked about one of our favorite pieces in the show.


Evenly spaced and connected by a string grid were scraps of paper and bits of wire and other things, some of them colored, some white.

The artist had pinned these things to the wall using entomology pins, as if the things were bugs, specimens or evidence, although they were not.

This was the strength of the piece.


It seemed so purposeful and well organized and transparent, but as if for no reason.

It didn’t fit in any known categories of art or science.

It didn’t seem to have anything to say or to be drawing any moral, political or personal conclusions.


It just was.

— Poem and gouache of silver goblet found in Woodstock, September 2018, by William Eaton

∩ The favorite art work was Collection: October 2017 by Adelaine Muth. The local museum was the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum (WAAM) in Woodstock, New York, where I have been writing and painting this month, at the Byrdcliffe Arts Colony.

According to a Mayo Clinic website, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. Symptoms include breathing difficulty, cough, mucus (sputum) production and wheezing. The main cause of COPD in developed countries is tobacco smoking. COPD symptoms usually worsen over time, and people with COPD are also likely to experience episodes called exacerbations, during which their symptoms become worse than usual day-to-day variation. COPD can cause many complications, including depression. People with COPD are more likely to catch colds, the flu and pneumonia. Any respiratory infection can make it much more difficult to breathe and can cause further damage to lung tissue.

Lyle Lobel Warner, 11 May 1930 – 6 September 2014.

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