In the Eye of the Beholder
The Wild Swan, oil on canvas painting by Alexander Pope, 1900, De Young Museum
On the museum wall
a swan, head down, hangs
against a dark green door,
its wings a white fan of entreaty,
head dangling on the long slender neck.
Before the image stands a child,
there as part of a generous school gift.
Her eyes reflect a darkness
that should be unknown,
her mouth a circle of horror.
The small girl tries to melt
into the big girl solid behind her,
clutches her stomach,
struggles not to cry.
The sponsor turns away,
never pictured what might happen
when he gave the inner-city children
their first experience in fine art.