Matt Galletta

by Best Poem

At the New York State Museum

An American Elk
is forever standing
in a motionless stream.

A museum tour group
pauses in front of it
to read a plaque
explaining how Elk
were systematically hunted
and eradicated from the region
by the late 1800s.

All around the Elk’s hooves
are coins
submerged
in the tepid water.

A young man from the tour group
reaches into his pocket,
steps forward,
and then,
with a flick of his thumb,
lobs a quarter into the air.

The whole group
traces the arc of the coin,
which lands
(heads up)
right between the Elk’s glass eyes.

As the man laughs
and high-fives his friends,
he puts his arm
around a woman,
his girlfriend,
but she is not laughing.

She is too conscious
of the quiet stares
and sideways glances
from the rest of the tour group,

too conscious
of her boyfriend’s voice
booming through
the solemn halls,

too conscious
of being
frozen in this moment
and on display
for anyone
with two dollars
and an afternoon to kill.

Matt Galletta lives in Albany, NY, with a girl and two cats. He is not very adept at writing about himself in the third person. Contact him at http://www.mattgalletta.com .

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