Installation

In a vacant lot cleared of weeds and rubble
the figures of men in identical postures
knelt in worship or else in submission
to something irresistible.
Our friend shot photographs of them.
This is art that shows us how to turn away.

The shades of early winter lay low
and spread deeper. The bodies rested
all reddish in their their robes of clay,
so passive and patient.
I felt that words were called for somehow
without knowing what words to say.

Later, when I saw Moira’s photographs
I flipped through them quickly, as if
they were pornographic or from an autopsy,
something not to be dwelt on.
I fear her feelings were hurt. I was sorry,
but this art made me turn away.

It was hidden without hiding, empty quarter-
block just off the main drag, fugitive space
fit for public art, and if it bore a message,
I wondered if its creator
was entirely clear on the purpose or demonstration,
or just worked without the words to say.

We returned a couple of days later to a quiet
space that suddenly had become a killing field.
Someone had smashed the heads in, shattered
the bodies and kicked
their shards across the rain-drenched ground.
Horrified, I walked away,

searching for words to say.
Then, walking into a bookstore coffee shop,
I looked behind me and noticed
that my footsteps were marked
by clots of wet red clay.

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