Maria Exhibits Her Wares

                   Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Oklahoma


Outside, the slow, motionless mating

terrapins, and here, in the silence,

a single terrapin, black and shining,

with bright moon spots on his shell,

eyes of green turquoise, looking as if

he were ready to spring

out of his case and crawl

with uncharacteristic speed.


The black bear is waiting too,

his neck bent, his nose nuzzling

the lid of his box.  Cornered,

Maria glints through slant eyes

at the world she made.  Later,

she will hold it like a single

vase, shapely and full as your body.


In the large jar, the one with a lid,

there is a lizard, a stylized bird,

a bear, a frog and bison -- all

miraculously contained.  And a deer,

with a heartline rare in the Rio Grande,

has left behind all her craft.

She beams lazily from a dazzler blanket,

red and gold as the sun, sniffs

the moist heady scent of earth

where, moments before, the terrapins

met and, without intention, really

quite by chance, moved

the museum pieces to life.