I started writing this poem while I was on six weeks of grand jury duty in Washington, D.C. It was an awful experience of listening to countless drug cases mixed in with child abuse and child prostitution cases. During lunch breaks, I would slip away to the National Building Museum and rest my soul in its cathedral-like expanse. I liked watching the workers go about their daily routine. It calmed me. Below is a little intro to the newest issue of Beltway Poetry:
Beltway Poetry opens 2009 with a new issue devoted entirely to poems about museums. Thirty-three poets write about museums, historical sites, and other public places devoted to preservation and exhibition. The poems address the institutions and “their collections, their workers, and the many ways in which they fulfill their founders’ hopes of enlarging the scope of civic life,” as guest co-editor Maureen Thorson writes in her introduction. “In these poems, poets engage in conversations with artists, their subjects, and with art itself. They stand in witness to the forces of history.”
Saundra Rose Maley asks King Tut,”…is there a crossing over/ Or is this life just what it is, a sandal strap/At best?”
Kendra Kopelke lets the woman in a Hopper painting speak: ” He put me here/like a candle/to ignite the room.”
Stephen Cushman imagines painter’s models, “posing in a yoga twist,/head going one way, torso another.”
David Gewanter writes of a museum store clerk, ” I love to see my mother behind//the counter, tidying up the fossil fish/and reptile rulers.” Linda Pastan contemplates death from a safe distance, asking, ” Whose skulls are these,/and isn’t it dread/that informs our pleasure//in this canvas?”
Special thanks to Kim Roberts for her wonderful dedication to Beltway Poetry. Beltway Poetry Quarterly, now in its ninth year of online publication, is available for free online at http://www.beltwaypoetry.com. For a free subscription, go to: http://lists.mutualaid.org/mailman/listinfo/beltwaypoetryquarterly.