Veronica?

Chantal Gibson

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What's it like at the centre of the AGO?

Hmm. Imagine being coloured, drawn, and placed

 

in a wooden frame, another hung woman, positioned

just so in the middle of a landscape surrounded by rocks,

 

lakes, mountains, and trees, MacDonald to your right,

Carmichael to your left.  Imagine being forced to look,

 

to spend every unblinking moment of an 8-day week

staring at a Lawren Harris landscape, a frozen wall

 

of whiteness, when you know, outside, the glaciers

are melting, the trees are falling, one by one,

 

and the Beaufort scale has shrugged and turned its

back on September. Now, the winter legends are

 

sold in the gift shop—T-shirts, handbags, journals, calendars,

coffee cups, board games. Puzzling, isn't it? Makes you want

 

to laugh, a little, knowing you've been placed here

by kinder hands, to reconcile the past, to challenge

 

the climate of the centre. I'm a sign of the times,

still, no one knows my name. What's it like?

 

It's like I'm the number one answer to the question

you haven't considered, the one you never thought

 

to ask, the one staring you right in the face. 

Chantal Gibson, "How She Read" from How She Read. Copyright © 2019 by Chantal Gibson. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
 
Source: How She Read (Caitlin Press Inc, 2019)
 
The poem "Veronica?" by Chantel Gibson is a response to a portrait that hangs in the AGO (titled "Veronica?" by the artist Yvonne McKague Housser). See image on IG here https://www.instagram.com/p/BGaJ1FlNIT8/