we note ceramic heads smirking
through pursed lips, welded sculpture
waxed to approved shades of rust,
paintings in the favored local style
of broad and casual brush stroke.
February gnashes in the streets,
sun-thaw followed by freeze. Tourists
clog the village museum where
three local glassmakers lecture
on quartz and fire. We stumble
over snow heaps filthy with road sand
and litter. No one’s buying art
these days, but everyone looks.
We retreat to the tea shop. A dog
on a leash, a modest brown mutt,
watches us with infinite longing
only shy little dogs can muster.
We speak to him, stroke his muzzle.
His brown eyes look too deep for art
to affix. Bottle-brown and opening
directly into his doggy mind,
they promise affections bottomless
as bogs at the feet of mountains.
We can’t afford the local art
and can’t inflict a dog on our house
full of cats. A cup of tea
resolves us. Slightly compromised
by milk, no sugar, it dissolves
our aesthetic and canine desires
in tannic acid brown as the rust
on those metal sculptures, brown
but not as deep as those dog eyes,
and mild enough to embalm us
with a post-equatorial warmth.