Patricia Valdata
Head of a Woman

It all degrades: paint
fades, varnish cracks,
canvas mildews and frays.
Clouds dissipate, leaves
turn brown and fall.
The bookbinding rots,
The Ice Man melts.
Even petrified wood:
where did the cellulose go?

Maybe decay is deliberate,
like Navajo sand painting,
words scribed in chalk
on a rainy sidewalk,
swans sculpted from ice.
No matter. We are all
made with inherent vice.
See it in the museum,
your mirror.

Inherent vice: The inevitable degradation of a material,
for example, the artist used material in a way that
hastened deterioration or intended to have short life.
      ~ Hirshhorn Museum

With apologies to William Shepherd:
"Richmond Woman," 1920.