What we do with what we’ve killed

In the museum courtyard, arches repeat
the past’s stylistic flourishes. A skylight

opens up to the future, supported with beams.
Everyone who’s here is here because they want

to look at art, or just escape the blistering heat.
Museum personnel walk around with a group of docents

in training. The word docent comes from the Latin docere,
which means to show, teach, or cause to know; to make appear

right, be seemly, fitting. There’s a roomful of glass
in one room: French, all swirls and jewel colors,

the designer’s name ending in -que. You can tell
who among the viewers has knick-knacks like these

locked up in a tall glass case in the foyer:
maybe that woman in a slubbed linen shirt

and loafers. Once I went to read for a book group
at the beach, in the home of one of its members.

The host met us at the door in a woven caftan. She said,
You can walk up to the second floor, or if you want

there’s a lift by the landing. But if you walk up the stairs
you can see the wood-carved statues I asked my housekeeper

to take out of storage— I thought you’d like to see them
as they’re from your home country. Like an obedient fish

I ascended the cool lucite staircase. At the top, I greeted
each likeness in turn: native madonna and child, hunter

with backpack carrying a deer; warrior with axe
in one hand, and the head of his enemy in the other.


In response to Via Negativa: Slum.

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