The man sat in front of the Pharaoh’s statue. It was about three thousand years old or something. He didn’t sit down to look at the statue but to rest his feet. He’d been wandering the museum for hours, out of duty almost, so that when he was looking at a book many years hence he could say, yes, seen that, seen that.
Nothing had moved him. He noticed that the colours of the Renoir paintings were more vibrant than in picture books. He saw a real page from a Leonardo da Vinci notebook and observed the mirror writing, but when he deciphered the letters it was in Italian which he couldn’t understand. The spears from Papua-New Guinea were the same as all spears from Papua-New Guinea.
So he sat in front of the Egyptian Pharaoh — white solid ancient silent stone. He noticed the hand and finger-nails. He thought of the carver, three thousand years ago, carefully crafting the tips of the Pharaoh’s fingers. He felt some secret affinity with the man the statue stood for.
Suddenly he wanted to cry. He couldn’t because a guard, a woman, was watching from the door. He wanted to become lost, engrossed, totally captivated. But the woman was watching. He wanted to call out the Pharaoh’s name. If only the woman would go away.
Later he went back to the statue, but the Pharaoh beneath had gone. Still later, in Florence, he laughed at the size of David’s balls. And in Rome, in the Sistine Chapel, he remarked in a letter that it was a bloody long walk down the corridors to get there. Again, at Dachau, he thought the movie presentation was well done, and took a photo of the fire-extinguisher behind the door in the oven chamber.
If only he could’ve cried at the Pharaoh’s statue.