Quintin Collins (he/him) is a writer, editor, and Solstice MFA Program assistant director. His work has appeared in many print and online publications, and his first full-length collection of poems, The Dandelion Speaks of Survival, is forthcoming from Cherry Castle Publishing in 2021.
Rules for Conducting Yourself in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Do not touch the paintings. Turn off your flash
if you plan to take photos. In the exhibition halls,
no food, drink, or watermelon. Speak at low tones
to avoid disturbing other visitors. If you venture
too close to the statues, security will approach
you. If you are black, security will stalk you.
If you are black, we have a collection of Benin bronze
altar pieces that look like you behind glass. Security
will remind you only once to turn off your flash.
Check your backpacks, roller bags, or large purses.
If you are black, don't you have somewhere else to be?
If you are black, can we see your tickets please?
Have you tried jumping in the harbor? Your history
is there. Maybe you'd learn if you drowned.
Maybe you'd learn if you were not too busy
stripping. Dancing: also prohibited in the halls.
The MFA's paying members keep this marble clean
and white. The MFA's paying members are upset
they cannot enjoy the art in peace. If you are black,
we could display you under the spotlights. We would
touch your bronze, thrust a finger into your nostrils.
Do not evade your security guard. If you are black,
show us your ticket. The terms and conditions explain
you belong in Roxbury, Mattapan, Dorchester,
or the dirt, not here. Not unless you sculpt something
nice for us before you leave. Or just leave
your bones for us to build a new exhibit.