The Rothko Room

I met my friend at the Tate Modern.

He had a school assignment.

He was supposed to go to the Rothko Room

and write about whatever feelings

he experienced there.

“Let’s look at the other stuff first,” I said.

I showed him Max Ernst’s “Forest and Dove.”

I couldn’t help but launch into a monologue

about the significance of birds in Max Ernst’s work.

Then, I said, “Wait, she’s here, too,”

and showed my friend something by Dorothea Tanning.

She was Max Ernst’s wife,

who lived to be a centenarian.

In one of her last interviews

she said that she missed him.

“And you just have to see the Paul Delvaux,”

I told my friend.

Delvaux always painted the same woman –

someone he’d loved in his youth

and couldn’t forget –

a scar upon the memory,

the one that never was.

However, since it turned out

that the Delvaux was out on loan

to another gallery,

we made our way to the Rothko Room.

It was dark.

The large canvases had titles like

“Black on Maroon”

or “Red on Maroon”

and that was exactly what they looked like.

I knew I was missing something.

I stared, hoping it would come to me.

I tried to eavesdrop on the teacher

who was there with his students.

“So, how do you feel?” I asked my friend.

He shook his head and answered,

“I don’t like this.”

I said, “Let’s get out of here.”

It turns out I’m quite ok

with not getting Rothko.


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