into the Worcester Art Museum
to expose a predominantly white, suburban
audience to the intricacies of
toting a big black bag,
inconspicuously clad in everyday attire,
I, nonetheless, was singled out
by the security officer, rapidly
approaching from behind the safety
of his desk, as if to interrupt some
impending disaster on his
desperate journey toward me.
Hey you! What you got in that bag?
The air around me sputtered
in search of retort, while my
tongue lay hostage
against a confused palette.
As the approaching crowd smelled
the progression of fear,
to his Robin-Hood rush to save
a museum in distress,
a thick, curious tension rushed in
on a whirlwind, besieging the small crowd,
now marveling at what might become an
adventure Worcester hadn’t seen in decades.
I said, what’s the bag for and what you got in it?
Now, empowered by the women around me,
I could stay silent no longer.
It’s my purse. Just like hers, hers, and hers.
And what’s in it is none of your business!
Well, that’s an awfully big purse!
And I’m an awfully big girl,
now back off!
What could his mind
Perchance he thought
I was going to swipe some
art museum treasure, more priceless
than a Van Gogh original,
fold it up in, say, sixteen sections,
secure it neatly in my bag,
from which I’d just retrieved by compact Uzi,
threatening to take out any man
who dared sopt me (subsequently
his wife and children),
and rush out past the front
desk into a welcoming
Or perchance he thought
my bag was loaded with
several poinds of coke,
a hundred vials of crack, and
all kinda dope I was eager to
deal to a museum crowd
desperate for a fix.
Or perchance he thought
I was just some loose-cannon vandal,
up to no good, armed with several cans of
metallic mauve spray paint,
or more likely,
a big old watermelon, which
I’d smash on the floor,
scooping out large chunks to
smear across the designs displayed
on the walls of his big white castle on the hill,
leaving behind my own art,
a trail of little black seeds
following me out the back door.
As I moved past this
the strap of the bag
biting into my shoulder,
its contents pulling me down
a bit closer to the earth
I walk on,
I realized the bag I carry around
with memories, wishes, dreams & stories
with city streets, country roads, highways & rivers to places
with groans, laughter, cries & screams
And deep down,
somewhere near the bottom of that
big black bag,
there’s a neighborhood,
where no person
carries the fear
to dare ask
what’s inside it.
Monday, September 24, 2007