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On Taking the Boy to See Van Gogh
Gail Fishman Gerwin


It isn’t too soon to expose the boy to art, at eight his feet are as large as mine, we’d joked about the way
my feet fit his flip-flops.

It isn’t too presumptuous to think he might appreciate the genius of this man gone mad, this one-eared 
keeper of irises and peasants whose passion causes me to lust for creativity yielded by his torment.

In subway caverns, I hold tight the little hand that links me to his mother, the one who’d

marveled at the sight of a nude sculpture at the Met a generation earlier. Don’t let go, I tell myself, don’t 
let him step into the gap between train and platform, don’t let a stranger snatch him.

Onto the street where the Uptown E spits out an indifferent crowd, rain can’t dampen the drama of art 
packages to be unwrapped, of chunky brush strokes his eyes see from inches away. Don’t touch, I 
warn, he rolls those eyes, he knows this already, after all he’s eight.

I urge him to stand back, to see the whole, but he asks about lunch, his long legs needing fuel to weave 
among men in tweeds, women in cashmere, appreciating the spectacle of lonely drinkers in a clay-
colored hall where ceiling lanterns above a pool table spew circular auras.

I ask if he’s ready to leave, to choose anything he wants from the gift shop. Masking my disappointment 
that he avoids anything reflecting what he saw on gallery walls, I toss in

a post card or two, stars swirling over the Rhone, earthy potato eaters.

Clasping hands, we reenter the subway, heading for the train that takes us under the river.

What did you think, I say. He tells me

 you know, Nana, for a museum,
the food was pretty good.





© by Gail Fishman Gerwin.
Used with the author's permission.

Gail Fishman Gerwin (1939 - 2016), a “Jersey girl” from birth who claims to have channeled Dorothy Parker and Sylvia Plath on occasion, authored three poetry collections: Crowns (Aldrich Press) was inspired in part by her four grandchildren; Sugar and Sand was a Paterson Poetry Prize finalist, and Dear Kinfolk (ChayaCairn Press) earned a Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. Founder of the writing/editing firm Inedit, Gail was also the associate poetry editor for Tiferet and frequently participated in workshops and panels on the creative process.

Post New Comment:
Wonderful, both viewpoints. And his response, so typical.
Posted 05/23/2015 11:40 AM
insight on so many levels.must read it again:) Aren't you glad we never get too old to learn to see through new eyes?!
Posted 05/23/2015 08:27 AM
We can but try to share our own loves, of art, poetry, whatever moves us, hoping it will move them similarly, hoping they will Judy/nana
Posted 05/22/2015 04:42 PM
Ha ha, what a charming and well detailed reflection on perspective. And we can enjoy all of them, whether it's viewing a Van Gogh, or the differences in age, and what's important to each. Tiferet is a fine journal and I'm delightedto read Gail's work here at YDP. Lois
Posted 05/21/2015 11:49 PM

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