Free to the Public Every Thursday by Scott Chalupa

The young couple is discordant—two blue shirts

making out among the shuffle of art-grazers

 

(an ocean of eyes). At the exhibit’s entrance, a dome

of aluminum cups and plates throws circles of light

on the floor. A stone Buddha sits in meditation

 

against the south wall. His ears (stretched to his hips)

forgive the couple’s smacking. Enshrined in the pillar

 

at the center of the room, a bronze Kali

dances in her glass case. The faux marble

(a shade of forest) suggests the smoldering foreplay could

 

incinerate the room should the dark mother declare

the décor is all wrong. Gold-gilt, Shiva turns his gaze

 

to witness Atman’s divine drama in the kissing-

corner where the teenage pair awaken

 

to the averted eyes of more modest patrons, and flee

the India room. Ambling arm-in-arm through the Sikh exhibit,

they self-consciously quiet their petting. They pause

 

before a stack of glass pages, each one quarter-inch thick,

each frosted with a line of Punjabi. The Dasam Granth,

 

stenciled across their reflections, reveals their place

among scripture. Vāhigurū, watching from his shrine,

blesses all visitors. Blown glass vials

 

(bodies stained with vortices of yellows, blues,

pinks and purples) whisper contain yourselves, do not disturb

 

the silence. From their wood canvases, the Ten Gurus

guide the lovers to a shower of silver strands

polished with fragments of Vāhigurū’s glyph (disappearing,

 

reappearing with each turn through the room). Leaving

the exhibit, the teens rekindle their coital prelude

among the Abstract Expressionist Americans. Mark Tobey’s

 

haphazard whorls of white, blue and yellow tempera

(scribbled across their 5’x8’ cardboard

 

canvas) stoke the couple’s groping. Across

the open-air labyrinth, Cy Twombly’s

 

three frenetic buttons of purple and magenta

bloom against their powder blue plywood

backdrop, the passionate petals (messy,

 

circular squiggles) lather the lovers’

public lovemaking. And before

 

Jasper Johns’s three layers

of encaustic America,

 

their mobile            installation

      erupts            through the silence:

      Our lives                  will end tomorrow.

 

Scott Chalupa
chalupaScott Chalupa lives and writes in an attic apartment with doorjambs barely tall enough for head clearance. A winner of the Howard Moss Poetry Prize, he served on the nominating committee for the 2014/15 Houston Public Poetry series. He is currently pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. His work has appeared/is forthcoming in several venues, including Houston NPR, The Allegheny Review, Houston & Nomadic Voices, and Dark Matter.
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