My roommate calls me over to look at leather flip-flops
and woven chairs and beaded necklaces. She gestures
indignantly with her shoulders, like an ironic tour guide,
and says, There’s nothing new under the sun.
What have we been doing since 3000 B.C.
if our shoes still look the same? Secretly, my favorite thing
about museums is their comfortable confirmation
of humanity, of a “human spirit,” a craving, desiring,
sexual, caring, hungry, lonely, fearful humanity;
traversing the first floor of the Metropolitan Museum
means traversing thousands of miles and thousands of years
and everybody everywhere is always obsessed with the same things
which makes me feel a little better
about the amount of time I spend thinking
about bodies and water and this boy I’ve never even slept with
and a certain girl in springtime, her skin and her smile especially.
My professor says all great writers write about the same things
their whole lives. She says, there’s love and there’s death,
that’s it. She says, you make a phone call, you eat a pizza,
then you’re forty. She says the first time she saw her husband,
leaning against a building, smoking, she knew he was inevitable.
The gloriously painted mummies make me think
of my own mortality, though my roommate says
she never thinks about her own death. She is most attracted
to the shattered faces, and lingers at glossy fragments
of noses and eyebrows, the outline of her forehead
reflected inside them. Maybe art just means
whatever is resonant with the human spirit, I think about saying,
but she is already in Oceania, reading the wall text
on a massive wooden drum that would shatter everything
in the entire gallery if somebody struck it.