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The Triptych

Museum guard says,
"Get off that wall and sit
Over there, on those benches"
And we say silently,
"What, the ones full of tourists
Eating their egg salad sandwiches?"
So we move away and lean
Somewhere else
"You can't be there!"
Cries the guard again
In yellow shirt with red face
And French accent, glaring
"You block the monuments!"
So we get up and move off
To sit upon the bronze elephant

Flat lands to either side of the road
Glass barriers separate our cars
From the red brick houses with their red flags
Crossed with white
"Take this road! The GPS says
It's the right one"
And so we turn off onto a goat path
In turn getting off the dirt track
In favor of paved road
Near the canals
"I think it's taking us back
To Ishøj," my father says
We do not want to go
To Ishøj
"Well," injects my uncle
"At least you're getting good at driving
In circles"

We step off the ferry
Into the sun and flat brownness
Of monstrous parking lots
Near the docks
"Dad," I state
"Sweden is not as pretty as they say"
And we're walking
Walking, walking when the tourist center
Looms ahead
An oasis in the desert of cars and curbs
And crunching gravel
Inside it's cooler
"Dad," I ask
"Could I have an ice cream?
It's hot"
This is when we notice our lack
Of Swedish kroner
Only Danish ones in our pockets
But, as my uncle reminds us later
We are the lowest common denominator
To whom this system caters
And we make
Excellent tourists

by Birgitta Hendron

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