Friday, June 8, 2018

Gift shop 
in the Dada Art Museum
(1 a.m.)

Snowing outside, the night coming in blue 
and white through the gallery windows. 
Heavy snow, but dry inside in the dark, all the paintings asleep, 
the night guard walking around on his usual path. 

But something new tonight. A light, a flash—
like a signal, unusual after midnight in here tonight
inside the museum.

The guard, in the middle of a yawn, freezes 
like that, moves toward the flash, mouth wide open. 

The halls zig zag like modern architecture,
white walls (even in the dark) go right then left, 
and the flash is now a smoldering yellow glow on the walls 
getting brighter as he steps through the halls, gets closer.

The guard goes on and completes his yawn, 
comes out of the halls to the shiny glass windows of the gift shop
where the glow flickers like a campfire in the woods.
Or an upstairs window
on a snowy homecoming night. 

It’s a nightlight for sale. 
A Van Gogh (self portrait) nightlight. 

“Hi,” says the nightlight, as the guard enters the gift shop 
and goes into another yawn, a nervous yawn, the nervous yawn
of a first date, or the first time he talks to a nightlight. 

But—“Hi,” he says. 

“You're the guard, aren't you? It's good to meet you,” 
says Vincent. “I have a show coming here soon, it's good
to know that you’ll be here.” 

“Thank you, Mr. Van Gogh. But you know, well— 
it could be anybody doing what I do.”

“That’s untrue. Do you like it in here?

“I do, a lot. It’s peaceful and safe. Especially on a snowy night.” 

“Oh, it’s snowing out there?” 

“Yes. And when I walk around in here, I want to do it too, 
I want to make a painting.” 

Van Gogh’s straw hat flashes even brighter yellow and he says,
“Why don’t you?” 

“I think it’s too late for me to do that in life.” 

“And that is always untrue. I didn’t know that I 
was going to be in art galleries all over the world, let alone
become a nightlight,” says Vincent, looking the night guard 
in the eye. “Go on—when you walk around in here, live
in here, dream in here, stay in here, even when you go home.
But I think you're already doing that, aren't you?”

The guard lives on the top floor of a carriage house 
around the corner from the museum and behind a mansion
and as he listens to Van Gogh, he can see his new brushes
and clean white canvases waiting for him back there in the dark.
He also sees that he left a window open by the bed, the snow is getting in,
and his just-off-work waitress girlfriend's paint-splattered foot
sticking out of the covers is getting snowed on, but—
he feels that everything's going to be alright, after tonight. 

“I only sold one, you know,” says the nightlight. 

1 comment:

  1. Poem? Flash Fiction? Yes, flash like the nightlight. Enjoyed this piece. Vincent as a nightlight. Yes. Letting light in. Perfect.