A Tomb Figure With Splash Glaze (Tang Dynasty 700-750), Shines A Light On Visitors To A Museum.
Purloined. Frozen in time. Motionless.
Yet, within me is more life
than feels safe. I roar, rage
in earthenware form. They stop; eyes
checking that I truly am connected to my base; that I will not
leap and pounce.
Then, their breathing slows,
softens. ‘It’s only art.’
Eyes, temporarily rounded
like moon gates, re-turn to their usual shape.
Lips push into a horseshoe smile.
‘Only art’ can be owned, consumed. A short man
might feel taller
if he took me home. A dull man
if I stood before his door.
Thoughts the colour of wintery days,
grizzle grey, drizzle blue, mud splat brown, they
Legs splay, settling
the body into a balanced, calculating
stance. My fury invalidates
Some debate whether to place me in
the hall. Others clamp
teeth together, knowing to contain
their mirth, understanding
exhibition etiquette. ‘How visitors
would squeal,’ they think,
considering the bathroom. ‘That’s the place
for her,’ they reflect. ‘She’ll make
them the jump.’ I have been gendered
female. It permits a man
to indulge in a little double entendre, if
the company is right. Once behind glass,
meaning, significance, relevance,
is theirs to assign. Eyebrows furrow.
‘Anyway,’ comments one. ‘How
can I measure
it?’ They need me to fit.
Into my place. The space they have chosen
for me to sit. There is no calibration for my out
rage. I square. Readiness to attack
brings safety. I won’t fit.
Noses press against the glass.
Seeing my strength, they
pull back hurriedly, fogging the display case.
look sharp. What if your nieces
poke their little fists into
The kitty’s mouth?’ one says to his companion.
‘They’ve been brought up with no
respect for belongings.’ I am not property.
An abductor can not own the shame of the one
who has been snatched.
‘Mind, that’ll teach them not to meddle
with my stuff.’
I spit, I snarl, twist sinews,
I display. Fearful, dread, my ire,
white hot like the fire
that turned copper
by Vanwy Arif