A red-faced lion raises its maw. I could be in the supermarket, saran wrap thrown back but there's Hope Wanted Alive scrawled along all the mud-slick side streets where kids roll bottle tops, kids hawk one seed— in Nairobi the slum blues where I stop, gallery-wise. Forty children in clean costumes of show-off purport to live in the two rooms abutting the paintings. You could drink the sugar cane at the end of the street or you could set fire to it. I did see truck tires without trucks. I did see ice cream nobody would lick. And slits up the side of a dress, and always huge knives that cut, in my case, canvas. A big painting not in celebration of our president but the red-faced lion, looking for the supermarket, kids in claws, bottle tops for eyes, nobody costumed who isn't running, politicians with outstretched arms equaling —or trying to—hope. I buy it.
Copyright © 2010 by Terese Svoboda. Used with permission of the author.