Last summer on the stairs of the Chicago Art Institute a sculptor friend and I
Watched a madman in rags fiercely stroke the tail of a bronze lion.
“You know,” my friend commented, “only in America
Could one be killed in public, by an insane person, for no reason at all.”
He glanced at me and I saw the terror of public places.
More than once going home on the Staten Island ferry I’ve seen this man board,
Trembling at the prospect of gliding slowly past the Statue of Liberty yet again –
That bronze woman
That green woman
That fat woman with big feet in stone sandals –
Seagull and pigeon shit combined on the crown of her head.
He’d have a couple of beers, masturbate with anticipation, hang over the railing in
the freezing wind –
Beige-gray commuters gazing at him in tired contemplation, sneakers on their feet
I won’t say what happened as we passed the statue
Only that later he would brisk himself down the ramp
Along with everyone else, head towards the buses and commuter trains.
* Based on “The Statue of Liberty”
by Frederick-Auguste Bartholdi