Go down to Queen Street
on a summer evening,
or walk to Odell Park
and look in the dark
beneath the trees:

you’ll find them
gathered round a fire,
drinking meths or after-shave.

Fly Karsh from Ottawa.
Lodge him in the Beaverbrook
then bribe these Bacchants with free
booze and bring them to him.

One day their photos will hang
with those of Hatfield or Robichaud
in the New Brunswick Hall of Fame.

That’s what Velásquez did
when he painted his dwarfs
and topers, and you can see them
in the Prado today,
as famous as
Spain’s King and Queen.

Velásquez’s Secret


Velásquez’s Secret

Two large paintings
hang on the wall,
one in front of the other:
Las meninas.

I gaze at the serving maids,
the royal princess,
the court dwarf,
the sleeping dog.

The painter,
stranded behind his easel,
paintbrush waving,
stares back at me.

I turn around.
The second painting
is not a painting:
It’s a mirror.

There I am,
standing by the princess,
one of the family.
I move my hand
and wave at myself
across the centuries.

Like the four court dwarfs
staring out from their wooden
prisons on the walls in another room,
I emerge from obscurity
and join the élite:

the painter
waves his magic wand
paints me
as I stand beside
the king and queen.