Art Knows

Closing hour: brass teeth gnash within their locks.

Darkness has changed the night-watchman’s son, mellowing his form, transforming his skin into a wan frenzy, his tiny body seeming to meld with the black of the museum passageway he is crossing. Half-running with his hands stuffed in his pockets, the boy strides into the next room, where portraits of regal looking figures line every wall. He vaguely remembers, though he tries to choke the thought, that the dates on these paintings were centuries old. Whipping his head left and right, his eyes flit over the faces in the frames, just to be sure none of them get any notion of moving into their two-dimensional minds. You never know, he thought, funny things happen at night. The boy comes to a halt in the center of the room, eyes wide and spark-like sensations darting through his limbs. Here in the numb-twilight, the hush has more depths to it than he should like to know, yet the boy lingers, gripped by the thickness in the air and the feeling that he is taking part in something cherished. He stares, eyes wide, imploring, while the painted humans look back, bemused. A low hum, a plea, reverberates throughout the museum, seeming to be conducted by the paintings themselves. Beauty, preserved and ancient, hesitantly unfurls itself to him, but the boy remembers the possibility of phantoms lurking in the shadows, so he darts away.

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