Poem for Looking at Art at the Chrysler Museum

My husband and I have fled South to visit friends.  Today, we walked through the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia with them.  Some thoughts:

Poem for Looking at Art at the Chrysler Museum

Nineteenth century gardens

are green windows on the pale blue walls.

We walk through in the artificial cool,

and the baby sees maybe a little from his stroller,

but his eyes are for mommy and daddy,

and maybe for someone else who might smile at him.


There is stone, paint, metal,

thick, thin, rusted, bent, shaped,

and peace and pain are revived

for those who are looking.


There are the burned stains 

on an iron cloth, framed in worked metal,

seeming, at first, interesting, innocuous.

Then, with the help of the words,

it is easy to see the bodies of slaves

arranged economically in the bow of the ship:

a diagram I’ve seen before, taught before.


The baby is asleep now, protected

from the auras of the art in the orb

of his stroller and the life he knows.

When he wakes, he’ll reach out again

to change that life.


We five adults wander singly or in pairs,

drifting apart and merging,

speaking quietly:

a comment,

a question,

a joke,

a touch.


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