I walk into the large white box,
some young people look really cool
others just take the piss.
Three students appear informed, anguished even, intelligent,
others merely shake their heads.
I study Wine Crucifix, Arnulf Rainer,
old ladies stand up straight and tilt their heads,
others lean closer in wistful passivity.
A large group of children are shown Jackson Pollock, Summertime 9a.
most are expressionless dismissive uncomfortable,
some speak of images I cannot recognise, only one gets it.
A well-dressed man, American perhaps, is ambivalent,
a half-dressed girl is beautiful and knows it,
others are imprisoned by their ugliness.
Cy Twombly’s Quattro Stagione beguiles me completely,
like a Mucha poster left in the rain.
Tourists read the captions, inquisitive and scratch their chins,
Japanese, study it, leave reverentially but return for yet another look.
La femme et son Poisson, Man Ray shimmers,
both lithe, both swim, both dream.
A small group do not look, but look at each other,
some are tired and blow out their cheeks, vacant,
others sympathetically recoil, feeling conned.
I puzzle at Brague but fall in love with Metzinger’s
La femme a la Cafetiere, sensual, ovoid, warm.
Schoolgirls look like schoolgirls, are schoolgirls
but wish not to be at school,
clutching books for authenticity,
others leave hurriedly, reluctant to stay.
Everyone notices the crack across the floor.
© Graham Sherwood 10/2008