It isn’t too soon to expose the boy to art, at eight his feet are as large as mine, we’d joked about the way
my feet fit his flip-flops.
It isn’t too presumptuous to think he might appreciate the genius of this man gone mad, this one-eared
keeper of irises and peasants whose passion causes me to lust for creativity yielded by his torment.
In subway caverns, I hold tight the little hand that links me to his mother, the one who’d
marveled at the sight of a nude sculpture at the Met a generation earlier. Don’t let go, I tell myself, don’t
let him step into the gap between train and platform, don’t let a stranger snatch him.
Onto the street where the Uptown E spits out an indifferent crowd, rain can’t dampen the drama of art
packages to be unwrapped, of chunky brush strokes his eyes see from inches away. Don’t touch, I
warn, he rolls those eyes, he knows this already, after all he’s eight.
I urge him to stand back, to see the whole, but he asks about lunch, his long legs needing fuel to weave
among men in tweeds, women in cashmere, appreciating the spectacle of lonely drinkers in a clay-
colored hall where ceiling lanterns above a pool table spew circular auras.
I ask if he’s ready to leave, to choose anything he wants from the gift shop. Masking my disappointment
that he avoids anything reflecting what he saw on gallery walls, I toss in
a post card or two, stars swirling over the Rhone, earthy potato eaters.
Clasping hands, we reenter the subway, heading for the train that takes us under the river.
What did you think, I say. He tells me
you know, Nana, for a museum,
the food was pretty good.
© by Gail Fishman Gerwin.
Used with the author's permission.