Gallery      for Pamela Sztybel




I slid past a pencil drawing of a young girl,


a white marble statue of a warrior,


and a vase that no one had dropped


in over five thousand years of human history.


Then I stopped at an oil painting


in a frame flecked with gold,


which I gazed at for such a long time


that the painting began to look back at me,


which was especially odd because this


was not a portrait but a landscape,


and what was looking back at me was a pale field,


a stand of trees, and a blue and light orange sky.


The longer we looked at one another


the more it seemed like one of those staring contests


you can never win, the kind you might


get into with a dog with bangs over its eyes.


But then the painting blinked,


or at least a tiny cow I had not noticed


changed her expression, and that was enough


to return me to the world beyond the painting


which now was textured like a fabric,


finely threaded and grained with color,


as if a brush had been lifted by a hand


and pressed, again and again, against its surface.


                         -Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate 2001-03