Three in the Gallery

by Luke Bartolo

into this space a procession,
three generations, murmuring,
observe artefacts plucked from the past.

Domestic devices on display;
rust, function, culture, value,
dented and crow-footed with surfaces dashed clean of tone and texture.
Woman asks, “What’s this item?”
and the elder replies, “…a masher,”
peering from her wheelchair, hand outstretched,
eyes fixed on unseen memories in the air.
Attempts at conversation fade in their throats.

Daughters and mothers three observe
items complete, items in patina, items roach-eaten
– the older the more destroyed by time.
Their trousers mirror the parade in reverse:
Pressed cotton over arthritis; impeccable and new.
Jeans for middle-age; upturned cuffs burnished by use.
Holes over youthful knees; the frayed oxidised edges
like the corn-blue pantry
that recedes into the distance behind them
as they leave.

Luke Bartolo is a writer and illustrator living in Western Sydney, Australia. He has written both fiction and non-fiction for a range of publications such as English in Australia, Cambridge University Press’s Checkpoints series, Into English, the journals mETAphor and Teaching History, and the Western Sydney University textbook Charged with Meaning. His writing draws upon history, science, and mental illness.