Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Smallest Visitors


The Smallest Visitors

Small visitors are an art in themselves
they come into this space at full tilt,
hover on tiptoe, all eyes and eagerness,
a rapid consultation, point – that
way! – and away at a run
chittering like squirrels
and ignoring the good-natured
hushing of their teacher
as they animate the place with their pleasure.

            A quiet girl has branched off on her own
            to craft her answer to an assignment
            unawed by her chosen
            400-year old Byzantine icon.

Meanwhile the main tide flows
around where I sit, old man with a pen,
as if I am an exhibit not sufficient
to warrant their notice and I am reminded
of my own son years ago at eight or so
going up to a grim attendant at a National
Gallery somewhere and asking politely:
Excuse me, are you real?

Small visitors are an art in themselves
they animate the place with their pleasure.

-Barry Breen, May 2013

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