Monday, January 2, 2012

The Collector

There were artworks on her walls
With personal histories
Dear to her that she rehearsed

Daily, in part or in full,
Depending on how much time
She spent home alone with them.

She imagined narrating
Each cherished acquisition
To whomever might enquire.

That no one enquired did not
Constitute a tragedy,
Nor even disappoint her.

She enjoyed her private game,
Sanding smooth the difference
Between facts and narration.

To say that this photograph
Or that painting had been made
By such and such an artist

Using such or such techniques,
Completed and then purchased
On a particular date,

For a particular sum,
Was not really a story
But joined seamlessly to one

By the magnification
And detailing of sequence,
Rich in adjectives and verbs,

Richest in relationships:
"My late husband bought that piece
Some years before he met me.

He was traveling down South
When someone deluded him
Into thinking he could judge,

And profit by purchasing,
What he called 'Outsiders' Art,'
What most people call 'Folk Art.'

What a lot of foolishness!
When he died, I gave away
Most of his monstrosities.

But I kept this one, you know?
I love the figures in it.
I love knowing it's worthless

And that he gave it to me 
On our honeymoon, saying
It would be worth a fortune,

Some day, it would be like love,
Like our love, worth more and more
With time. He had a sweetness,

But I could tell even then
This anonymous 'Garden
Of Eden' would never sell

At auction or end up hung
In a museum. Still, look
At all those silly creatures

From Genesis, the tropics,
America, you name it,
All jumbled up awkwardly

Like the guests at a party
Where no one knows anyone
But the host. God, I suppose,

In this instance. It's not art
To brag on, but I like it.
It's like Genesis itself,

Anonymous and awkward,
Not really pretty, and yet,
Somehow, you know, compelling.

I keep it for its patterns,
Colors, what it means to me,
And because Adam and Eve

Look brown, and small, and naked
As if they've already sinned,
But are still in the Garden

Like all good sinners, hoping
Not to get caught. Some evenings
I'll fix a drink and ponder

Art, artists, and collectors.
I'm no collector, myself.
But I can imagine one."

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