Return to Normal – a poem

Ouroboros, by Manuel Mathieu.
Image Credit: Denis Farley

Return to Normal

Riopelle exhibit of bronzes and canvases
hidden for months behind a digital
interface; pixelated representations
longing for in-person encounter.

Surprise government opening of museums
with limited time slots available.
Join a cohort of the free
walking those familiar, high-ceilinged rooms.

Art gallery visit, not as imagined.
Running late with a warning in mind:
“Arrive 15 minutes early
or lose your visit.”

Rush through revolving doors and
up the sweeping staircase.
Sweaty behind a mask, fogged glasses,
more bodies than imagined. Too many.
The discomfort of proximity.

Wander distractedly past
expansive landscapes with
artist’s trademark palette knife strokes;
walk hesitatingly around bronze owls
both intricate and rough.

Escape, finally, to a tranquil basement gallery,
quiet with the works of Manuel Mathieu.
Solitude with its turquoise framing,
negative space of whiteness,
and a reclined, healing figure.

Ouroboros, an expansive installation
of hung fabric—layered and singed.
Fragile tunnel inviting us to a
future not yet conceived
or given.

Our longed-for return to normal
is by halting, awkward steps.

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