Stealing The Scream
It was hardly a high-tech operation, stealing The Scream. That we know for certain, and what was left behind-- a store-bought ladder, a broken window, and fifty-one seconds of videotape, abstract as an overture. And the rest? We don't know. But we can envision moonlight coming in through the broken window, casting a bright shape over everything--the paintings, the floor tiles, the velvet ropes: a single, sharp-edged pattern; the figure's fixed hysteria rendered suddenly ironic by the fact of something happening; houses clapping a thousand shingle hands to shocked cheeks along the road from Oslo to Asgardstrand; the guards rushing in--too late!--greeted only by the gap-toothed smirk of the museum walls; and dangling from the picture wire like a baited hook, a postcard: "Thanks for the poor security." The policemen, lost as tourists, stand whispering in the galleries: ". . .but what does it all mean?" Someone has the answers, someone who, grasping the frame, saw his sun-red face reflected in that familiar boiling sky.
From Barter by Monica Youn, published by Graywolf Press, May 2003. Copyright © 2003 by Monica Youn. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved.