Gaby at the Jasper Johns Exhibition

She paid the senior’s fare

For both of us

It’s a donation, she said

Not a freaking tax

 

Jasper Johns in Gray, I said

That’s what I want to see!

I should walk you through Rothko, she said

That’s what I should do

And we were laughing

 

Breathless, she led me through a dark hall,

Up a stone staircase to a bright-lit room –

Her hair was damp and wild,

Her coat, frayed and lovely, sad

 

She was half-mad and half-brilliant,

My little sister

 

I paused in front of something messy

“False Start,” the title read

This is not action painting, she said

Glad to hear it, I replied

 

And then a room of large gray pieces

Black and white encaustics

Maybe he was colorblind, I said

Or maybe he thinks you are, she said

 

Every piece we passed was on fire

For her, burning but invisible,

Part of her, conflagration after conflagration

She moved through them, wincing

 

Then in front of two vertical canvasses

She stopped, tears in her eyes

I stood beside her, struggling to get it,

Waited, handed her a tissue

 

Then she was walking quickly again,

Talking frenetically about Rauschenberg ,

About sex and love and death and dancing

And I followed her, amazed, proud, smiling