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Guide to the Other Gallery

 

This is the hall of broken limbs

Where splintered marble athletes lie

Beside the arms of cherubim.

Nothing is ever thrown away.

 

These butterflies are set in rows.

So small and gray inside their case

They look alike now.  I suppose

Death makes most creatures commonplace.

 

These portraits here of the unknown

Are hung three high, frame piled on frame.

Each potent soul who craved renown,

Immortalized without a name.

 

Here are the shelves of unread books,

Millions of pages turning brown.

Visitors wander through the stacks,

But no one ever takes one down.

 

I wish I were a better guide.

There's so much more that you should see.

Rows of bottles with nothing inside.

Displays of locks which have no key.

 

You'd like to go?  I wish you could.

This room has such a peaceful view.

Look at that case of antique wood

Without a label.  It's for you.

 

                                    Dana Gioia

 

 

From The Gods of Winter, Graywolf Press,

1991. Reprinted by permission of the author.


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