Michael Bates

Museum Pieces

for Nora


The art in this room
should share a single statement.
It's supposed to say something
about belonging together,
though every painting
hangs on its own merits.

Now picture the place without them:
Nothing would stand out.
Not even art lovers
with high standards.


Where do we figure?
Your eyes are searching.
Are they clear about us?
Look at it this way-
as a whole, we're already
a work in progress.
The problem's with perspective--
you don't see us
coming any closer
than walls apart
within the same gallery.
You're on the side of still lives
while I'm aligned
with moving portraits.
What's missing is a meeting
space for both genres--
a middle ground
between back and fore.


The 2River View, 3_3 (Spring 1999)