House of Sharks

A Poem

By KG Newman
Night Windows. 1928. Oil on canvas, 29 x 34″. Gift of John Hay Whitney. (248.1940)
Image licenced to Jodi Simpson MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS BOSTON by Jodi Simpson
Usage : – 3000 X 3000 pixels (Letter Size, A4)
© Digital Image (c) The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource

We moved in months ago

but she refuses to hang anything on the walls.

In the family room, I suggest this oil ship painting

but she says it conveys

fabricated turbulence, as if static ocean foam

somehow suggests a quick forgiveness.

She also sees two black whales somewhere

in the distance behind the ship,

balancing on a tiny striped buoy.

Around the mammals, a circle of white sharks.

And the most disturbing thing about this painting,

she says while leaning in close

and calculating our debt,

is the whales remain astounded

knowing full well the encroaching nomads

have no need for oil lamps.