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“To be used only in the event of a fire.” 📷 Terry Bain

Room 43

Though I spent much of my visit to The National Gallery 
in tears, surprised by my reaction to even vaguely familiar
, ultimately religious canvases by artists known and unknown 
, I was not prepared for Room 43, when before entering
I caught a glimpse of two by Van Gogh, hanging 
—incredibly—on a wall, as plain as any other painting 
, but within spitting distance of my corporeal self
, so I immediately retreated to the stairwell, attempting
to compose myself by way of the simple allure 
of mundanity, the roll of fire hose, also hanging on a wall
, and no less important than sunflowers or crabs
I touched the cool metal wheel, painted red so as to be noticed 
in an emergency. A reminder: This was an emergency
It calmed me, and I had the foresight to snap a photo 
, a memento of my raw emotion, a tranquil moment 
, my last of the day, after which the tsunami undertow 
pulled me back to the room filled with impossible color
, none so simple as “red.” Here the ridiculous 
brushstrokes, unwound me in great, heaving
, amniotic sobs, imagined, dreamt, promised
: from now on I will be awake and screaming.