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On The Proximity To Art

Museums are quiet except For crackling parquet floors, Wooden squares, a game board: Checkers or maybe chess Of various right angle, grain striations. Parallel to paintings in oil, red lines Begin a court for pickup basketball. But whether subjects of famous battles Or romances between animals and gods, They are stuck in a frozen frame moment Like mammoths in some La Brea Art Pit It is this instant we are to see anew Each brush stroke, a wisp of hair, A dab of white, a cloud condensing, I lean close. An unseen alarm makes a statue come alive, A funerary, votive docent who guards Mesopotamian and Egyptian antiquities. She curses me in hieroglyphs translated And dictated from an Old Kingdom tongue. My crime: too close to art. As if my admission, and apology Were not punishment enough. I could have cast my eyes At strangers surrounding me. Vatican visitors are permitted To touch the Pieta statue for luck. Suspecting it has only so many Touches before marble succumbs, It’s luckier not to take a chance. (1/30/02)

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021




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