Two Poems

Gary Margolis

“Appeal to the Great Spirit”

after Dallin’s sculpture

The museum’s chief sits outside

on his bronze pony in the rain,

arms outstretched, palms up

to the sky, his brave’s headdress,

here in Boston, Huntington

Avenue’s crown. And inside all

the other dry and guarded art,

the city’s children, class by class,

are bussed to stand in front of,

walk by. Even now when I want

to remember that elementary

day we were guided back to

our line of yellow buses, idling

in the rain and how one of us cried

(Was it me?) because he didn’t know

that green Indian, who wasn’t moving,

wasn’t real. That he couldn’t stop

his prayer (appeal Dallin named his casting)

to the Great Spirit, couldn’t climb off

his horse and come inside with us.

To wander for a day among the portraits

and bowls, tapestries and polished

gold, before a guard would move us

to the door and back outside. So we

(I was too young to know I could

bring the God of Rain down from the sky)

would see him lifting his bronze face,

to this day, beside the wet and naked street.

Fit for Eternity

For years I have seen

my friend, John, the Florentine

art historian, here at the health

club, rowing toward God,

those plate glass windows in front

of him looking out to the Otter Creek

brewery and beyond to the Adirondacks.

For years I thought to ask him if,

approaching the afterlife, we’ll

see a machine God or the Fallen Angel

has ready for us to keep stepping,

running on, rowing, in order to stay

fit for eternity. In order not to

forget those bodies we once were,

Michelangelo rowed out of stone,

Fra Angelico saw and pulled, drew

out to the canvas of a wet wall.

So a priest, and now we, would have

something like us to fall to our knees

in awe of. To remember how sweat

comes to be prayer, how we aren’t

here to save ourselves for anything,

anybody else. Not even the artist

in his own century who waits to

make a heaven from a mountain

of empty cans, a hell from the heart’s

beating and uncountable miles.

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