Do you keep maps of places you’ve been? If you’ve traveled and returning take the maps, a few stubs of admission or transit and stick them in a box or a stack of papers or an accordian file (for they are the most gracious of filing boxes) and hang on to those maps with scribbles of a bar with a great basement and how trams cut odd lines through the traffic along the water and places you’d sought to meet interesting and attractive strangers? I see it as being just as well as hanging antlers on the wall, to remind you of mornings with your father or brother or friends and the way you capitalize on the favoritism mankind has enjoyed.
Neon tells us the same things, marks joys and sorrows for us in the night but like the maps you’ll lose them over time for never going back, and the strange colors of electrified gas fade from your mind over the doorway to a secret club because light is everywhere and we are in love with it so because we’re afraid of the dark.
We want to sit in the light and be comforted, resting on giant beanbags letting some embryonic muscle memory cradle our heads, bringing us peace such that even growing horns we wouldn’t mind, and often find staring at ourselves in mirrors the rich shine on our beautiful thick racks rising high above us reading a litany in the marks scoring our devilish head ornaments. Even strange and wondrous as our lives might be topped by a broad row of bone – thinking back to battles we’d fought, or the time, once we’d put the kids to bed in the next room tired as they were from the museum after we’d made love when I chipped the left one coming out of the shower in the hotel – I think we’d find some system for nostalgia, because we love the light and need it to see even in our past.
Some Absurd Kind by Alan
If the narrator were a child, he’d sing in these halls serenely like a flute and accent the nooks and placards. If the setting were a May or some other Northeast lover not too far from a tennis court or a museum. If the plot ached, but nothing came out. If the characterization were an unmistakable pair of eyes wrong each time and knowing it. If the nook were an elevator and the leaving the ride. If the introduction were conditions for speculations. If the building were a genre. If the page were not a page. If the child continued singing, but no one ever heard him, would the child be a story? Would the fiction cut off the end?
The End by Johanna
The end? No, it can't be the end! You said that if I behave the whole time we're at this museum, you'd take me out for ice cream after, but you didn't even give me a chance. That girl with the party dress in front of the purple moose picture wanted me to pull her pigtails. I swear. It's not my fault. And I thought it was okay to climb on that funny couch. I didn't know it was a sculpture. I only blew bubbles in my milk one time because I forgot and the marbles in the gift shop fell by themselves. I didn't even touch them. I swear. Come on, mom, you've gotta give me more time. I promise I'll behave.
What? It's not the end of the museum? You were just reading the sign? I can still earn ice cream? Awesome 'cause I really wanted to swing from those neon glasses over there.
Recollection of a photograph engraved — ekphrasis — with
Tree. Leaves. Glass. Beanbag chair — silver and
Echo by Forrest
The last time I saw my son, I think—Contemporary Arts. Oversized beanbag that wasn’t what he thought it was. He ran ahead of me while I lingered behind a statue, and he disappeared behind a wall. I could hear his laughing. Then I couldn’t.
I was alone in the wing and asked a guard in an adjacent one if he had seen my son. “Please don’t touch the paintings, ma’am,” he replied, looking straight ahead. I asked a young couple on an audio tour, who peevishly lowered their audio-wands, shrugged, and continued looking at the smiling woman with the neon-frame sunglasses. Nodding their heads to what the audio-wands told them. I went back downstairs to consult a receptionist. Twenty-five dollars. Twenty for students and seniors.
Emptyhanded, I returned home for dinner. My husband seemed curious while we ate. “Well,” he said before clearing the table, “he has some top-notch exhibits to take in now. Best schooling there is.”
When I have a moment, especially if it’s raining, I visit the museum as often as I can. The paintings in the Contemporary wing are lovely in their own way, to be sure, but I prefer the Hellenic wing. Or East Asian. Or perhaps British. Someone usually reminds me while I sit on one of the benches. A voice can travel far in these hallways.