You are the man, but not quite everything
that happens in this world belongs to you.  
Right now, in fact, outside your point of view,                                                
a fussy art historian named Li-ling,
Li-ling Levine, is cussing as she places
corrected copy for a Late T’ang necklace
just where it should be. (She will axe the reckless
intern who classified the piece as Ming.)
         
Monday, the Met Museum’s Asian wing,
and she is primping objects in their cases,
eying, aligning, looking deathly lean                           
beneath a choker blouse. Her pencil skirt
kick-pleated, sable and below the knee,
her footwear loud of heel and squeaky-clean,
the whole ensemble labors to assert     
I’m young, but you don’t want to fuck with me.

Bachelor’s from NYU at seventeen,
a Harvard Doctorate by twenty three,
she rules her galleries with dainty fist.
Precision. Elegance. Yes, her analyst
keeps harping on some nonsense called ‘regression
in service of the ego’ (that is, ‘play’),
but who has time for Scrabble? Her profession
is husband, lover, habit and obsession,
and there are too few hours in a day.

So she continues poking into nooks
and niches, tap-tap-tapping the parquet,
until an odd sight ruffles her routine:
a statuette, a faience Phoenix, looks
impossibly aglow, the ancient clay
lit from within. Why would a figurine
just all at once start acting out this way?

Before she can appraise this strange occurrence,
a noise erupts from the adjoining room:
smashed lacquerware, some magnate’s gift in shards
dispersing. It will take more than a broom
to clean that mess up, more than art insurance.

Someone deserves the guillotine, but who?
The doors are locked today. No docents, guards
or bumpkin tourists, so. . .the cleaning crew?
All that she sees are pots, a busty pair
of Bodhisattvas, a terracotta dancer.
Who’s there? Who’s there?
No answer.