Bal du Moulin de la Galette
Jostled and elbowed at the Musée d'Orsay by people clicking,
first at each painting, then at its attribution, I start to realize
no one's looking at the canvases, just their screens. And so
my nature morte composes itself, as I wait
by the leather banquettes for a few still minutes, until
a flock of cell phone users settles like pigeons
on a park bench, more interested in checking messages
and posting on Facebook than watching Renoir's dancers
whirling and dipping, light and shade stippling
their stiff dresses, their serge suits, their rosy skin.
Here in Montmartre, on a Sunday afternoon, the hall
is bathed in sun filtering through the trees, dappling
the woman in the blue-and-white striped dress, the men
with their straw boaters. Even the glasses on the table
ring with song.
But on this Sunday, in the museum, none of this registers.
Hunched over, waiting for the ping of incoming, faces
laved in pixelated light, drawn to the world of two
dimensions, thumbs are the only thing moving. A faint
hint of batter sizzling in butter enters the room, along
with distant phrases of accordion music. You can almost
hear the turtledoves twitter and tweet in the far-off trees. . . .
This poem first appeared in Barbara Crooker's book, Some Glad Morning (Pitt Poetry Series, University of Pittsburgh Poetry Press, 2019).
Barbara Crooker is the author of many books of poetry; The Book of Kells and Some Glad Morning are recent. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, The Poetry of Presence and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse. www.barbaracrooker.com
The Ekphrastic Review
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