dissolving in the gallery by James Morehead welcome to our gallery i read in dulling bronze our artisans suggest you linger in each hall, for if you pause and stare for hours, you may be reborn. i first stop in the library, lined with ancient tomes and watch the words slip from their pages 'til nothing's left, not even phrases. the next room’s filled with paintings hung in even stacks, some layered rich in color, others finely sketched, soon the pigment slowly fades, oil drips away, revealing stark blank canvases, white walls in decay. each figure in the next hall holds a perfect pose, muscles carved from blocks of stone, unblinking eyes set deep, left still on polished pedestals, ever on display, until they’re melted down by fire into molten pools becoming solid masses as the steaming swirl cools. i step into the final room where mirrors line each wall; lit only by a single beam, i’m pulled towards the light and just like the art before, my body starts to fade, dissolving into shadows that vanish through the floor. and so i join words paint and stone jumbled in the tomb, then waiting for three days to pass, i rise once more—and bloom.
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James Morehead is the Poet Laureate of Dublin, California. “canvas: poems” is his debut collection, and he hosts The Viewless Wings Poetry Podcast. James’ poem “tethered” was transformed into an award-winning hand drawn animated short film, and “gallery” was set to music for baritone and piano by composer Deon Nielsen Price.
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