Richard Allen Taylor

La Chambre d’Écoute, 1952

— oil on canvas by Belgian surrealist René Magritte

It’s The Listening Room in English, impossible
in any language except yours, Magritte—
a language of images, not words—and who else
would dare to set a giant green apple in a room
that barely contains it, where sunlight bursts
through the big window on the left, illuminating
the pomme on one side, leaving the right in shadow,
as if to imitate a lunar eclipse in progress. And notice
the brown stem, almost poking the ceiling. But why
listening? Do these walls have ears? Does the apple?
Yes, I know potatoes have eyes, yet I sense you
are not dotting those but rather crossing your tease.
Where, you seem to ask, does a thousand pound
apple sit? Wherever it wants. But perhaps symbols
clash. Eve’s disobedience, Adam’s weakness,
half in light, half in darkness, confined to a one-
bedroom Eden that can’t hold them much longer.