The Kindness of Strangers

My first visit to Tate Britain, walking through the entrance, takes my breath away.

It would necessitate much running if you wished to get through everything in one visit.

Which you can’t; I didn’t. But the breadth of the collection can make you gasp.

I am particularly mesmerized by the J. M. W. Turner collection, a special exhibit,

so in addition to those works they own, they’ve borrowed others worldwide.

The paintings hang in multiple rooms, and had I all the time, I might spend most of my visit there.

But another special exhibit, down on the first floor, has caught my attention.

It’s a history of British Queer Art collection, and what piques my curiosity is that Oscar Wilde,

one of my literary heroes, is featured by name on the exhibit banner.

I know Wilde only as a writer, and while I wait to rendezvous with my sister,

I go to read the huge poster detailing the purpose of the exhibit.

Ah, I see, it’s Wilde’s connection with the artists of his day, primarily Aubrey Beardsley,

that has brought him into the fold here, his relationships, his commentary, the various artists’ illustrations.

I want to see this, but there is a charge of 15 pounds.

Admission to almost all museums in London is free, but this is a special event.

15 pounds, I think. Ah well.

I walk away and sit waiting for my sister.

One of the two women watching the entrance to the exhibit comes over,

says to follow her, they will let me in at no charge.

I find this rather breathtaking, and go with her, enter thanking them profusely.

I check the time; my sister will be meeting me shortly.

As I jog from room to room, I now am breathing hard,

searching out Wilde and his associates, the associations.

Trotting through the final gallery, I emerge at last panting a bit,

thank the attendants again for their kindness.

My sister sits waiting, and I tell her the story, how it is more proof

the spirit of aloha may be found in many places.

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