This poem, based on a personal experience, was written in April 2011. It doesn’t need much explanation, since the narrative is fairly clear and not veiled or obscured. The experience that led to the poem was a straightforward one, so I felt like the poem should be, too.
Point to Something Red
Our elderly docent, already frowning and frustrated
from some of the dozen five-year-olds needing
a bathroom break before the museum tour, lost
it over their tugging the two stuffed animals
she had handed out— two for a dozen five-year-olds!
Terse and edgy, she stood stiff and stoic in front
of tall, arched, etched windows depicting
a mythic star-shower adored by an up-looking crowd
of contorted folk-Byzantine figures, some playing
music, others under a quilt, one painting the scene,
all gazing at three round-breasted angels flying
in a midnight-blue sky, among white firework daisies,
which the children all thought was the ocean,
much to the shameless chagrin of our elderly docent.
Our elderly docent attempted to recover by going back
to basics, asking, Who can point to something red?
Hands shot up, and she called on my bouncing blonde
daughter, eager to be best, who then charged out
of the middle of the cross-legged children toward a red
tulip, with her arm outstretched, finger in the lead, and
as she came close, our elderly docent, in one swift
motion, grabbed her wrist and wrenched her forcibly
away, before succinctly stating to the suddenly
silenced, now-attentive audience: Don’t touch the art.
Later, returning to the scene of the crime, in that gallery
alone, I did not see a midnight-blue sky full of stars
and angels, but instead the rolling ocean insisted upon
by shouting five-year-olds, until the reminder of the red
tulip took me back to her little shocked face— a shock
itself that witnessing her little loss of innocence could
overpower color and image, history and light, and all other
artists’ efforts at meaning.
About ten years ago, I all but quit submitting poems to literary magazines and began sharing a few here. To read previous (Unpublished) #Poem posts, each with its own mini-introduction, click on the title below: