Under the Sculpture

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
― Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora

In front of the Dallas Museum of Art, night, long exposure

In front of the Dallas Museum of Art, night, long exposure (click to enlarge)

The sculpture is Ave, by Mark di Suvero – the same sculptor that did the Proverb piece not too far away.

“The sky grew darker, painted blue on blue, one stroke at a time, into deeper and deeper shades of night.”
― Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance

They say you are not to touch the works of art. But I always used to see kids using the sloping steel structure – the one painted bright red in the middle of the preternatural green grass sward in front of the museum – as a slide. I don’t see that any more – security must be better.

But still I think of a slide when I see it – I think of the time we used a wax paper cup to lubricate an old, rusty piece of playground equipment down at the end of the block when I was ten years old. It became so smooth and frictionless…

The feeling of rocketing down that perilous slippery slope was intoxicating and frightening. The exhilaration was accelerated by the knowledge that we had figured it out and done it ourselves. We felt we were the only children in the world to understand the secret effects of rubbing wax paper cups on smooth steel.

A father came to fetch his kids and we boasted of how fast it was. Fathers were competitive then and he said it couldn’t be that fast because were were only little kids and we didn’t know what we were talking about.

It told him to try it. With a wry, dismissive grin he hauled his creaking, awkward bulk up the ladder much too small for him (I remember him as being oh so old, though now, of course, he would have been maybe thirty years younger than I am now) and sat bumbling down, unsure suddenly of the whole endeavor, giant feet reaching down the smooth steel – I remember a sudden, last look of doubt, almost panic flickering like a shadow across his expression… but fathers were stubborn then and there could be no turning back, no chickening out in front of his children and all their friends.

So he pushed off.

And you know what happened. I remember he shot off the end of that slide like a watermelon seed squeezed between your thumb and index finger on a hot summer afternoon.

That weekend his oldest kid told me he had to go to the hospital because he broke his coccyx.