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 © Stephen Wilson-Floyd | Year Posted 2021
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