Slippery When Wet

By Arlene Ang

The sign says we should head for the washroom,
avoid the man in yellow talking to his floor

polisher. The museum closes at seven p.m.
Byzantine pottery is in the underground;

no camera flashes allowed. We are afraid
of the dark, and go downstairs in single file.

Inside the room, decorative bonsai are wilting
like the Frenchwoman's hair under a straw hat.

There's such a problem as too much water.
With the air conditioner broken, we sweat

profusely and dry our hands on our clothes.
After a century, roots can rot in less than

a week, old gardeners retire, guards change
uniforms, walls repainted a deep blue.

History lies among cracked pots, the pieces
displayed behind the glass. A red light

signals us away. Someone complains loudly
that the whores in Amsterdam have more curves,

a relic is a relic is a relic, and the next
hamburger stand isn't indicated on the map.