'Fetish' by Jim Davis-Rosenthal
Fetish, Jim Davis-Rosenthal, 1999.



Barry Silesky


"Grasslands kings undergo a long period of initiation which cannot terminate successfully until one of the king's wives gives birth to a child."
—Susan Vogel and Francine N'Diaye, African Masterpieces from the Musee de l'Homme


So the trial's over. It's a boy, the king is certain and this is the celebration. Well, not  this exactly, but the figure carved to remember — and we do, at least for a while. She holds the barely conscious suckling, all the parts wound to one thing. Here, we're so tired of the same jokes over and over, money for guns, and yes, we feel bad for the poor dead suckers spread over the news. But look at her body! You're supposed to feel sorry for me, endlessly sorting garbage: orange peels, half-scratched drawings, crayons, scraps all over the floor — How do those children ever learn? How do we? It's not funny. Give the drunk a quarter, say you've done your part. These days he's "homeless," a word deserving attention, and presents the "spatial immediacy" we've learned from this art: there's no front; the meaning arrives from every direction. The war that brought us that sculpture was another century, the other side of the world, names we can barely pronounce. The king and all his children are long gone. But hey, did you hear the one about — except I've forgotten that one too, though I laughed at the time. The President made another deal with killers so we can eat better. It doesn't matter whether we believe it. That new azalea's blooming again, invitations out for the barbecue, and everyone's coming.







Text © 1995, 1999 by Barry Silesky
"Celebration" first appeared in Many Mountains Moving, Volume 1, Number 3 (December, 1994). The work appears here by permission of the author.

Original Graphic Image, "Fetish" © 1999 by Jim Davis-Rosenthal

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