King – deCordova series

Ken Landauer
2007
deCordova Museum, Lincoln, MA

Poison apple.  Take a bite.
Close your eyes and sleep, Snow White.

Pristine, perfect, well preserved.
Fate that you most ill-deserved.

Dream inside this prison/bed
While ever-afters fill your head.

A prince will spark your happy dawn,
Waking on the grassy lawn.

* * *

Welcome to my second post inspired by artwork at the deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA.

This beautiful white bed-in-a-box was easily visible from the roadway as we drove to the parking lot.  “What on earth?” I thought, and then got chilly prickles on the back of my neck.  I’ve never liked the scene in Snow White when the dwarves stand glumly around her glass coffin in grief and despair.  The sleeping princess reminds me of a stick of butter in a covered butter dish.

The Museum information explains that Landauer’s work is intended to break down boundaries between the public and private, alluding to the blurring of personal and communal lines in the modern era of social networking.  They’ve included a video clip on King’s installation if you’re curious how they built it.

Have you ever ironed your bed linens?  Maybe if I slept on Pratesi, I would.

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About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at cmealey@post.harvard.edu or Twitter @catballoumealey
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27 Responses to King – deCordova series

  1. Perfect poem for that art installation. The bed itself gives me the shivers.

  2. jama says:

    It’s amazing what an impact that bed has. So white, so stark, pretty strange. Your poem is perfection! Part of me wants to sleep on that bed . . . *shivers*

  3. What an amazing site. Love your poem — perfect. It looks like a tomb something out of the future.

  4. I agree with Patricia on the futuristic tomb (and especially about the “love your poem” part). While I haven’t went down the rabbit hole of the installation video, the price tag on those sheets. If I could afford those, I would hope I could someone else to iron.

  5. First, your poem: really, really good. You have completely distilled the story into four perfect rhyming couplets, and managed to make it turn from sinister to hopeful in a tiny little space. Brava! Love this:
    Dream inside this prison/bed
    While ever-afters fill your head.

    I think that bed is lovely and don’t see anything creepy about it. I really like the crisp and clean look. Then again, I’m in the midst of decorating our soon-to-be house, so I look at everything from a “Hey, could I use that?” perspective, haha. I’d sleep on it with pleasure – looks comfy and cozy.

    But $1200 for a set of sheets? Being an anti-consumer type, I like to think that even if I could afford them, I wouldn’t buy them. Because somebody is pulling our legs with that. And no, I do not iron bed linens. Or socks and underwear. But my Italian MIL does!

    P.S. The subscription worked! Found you in my inbox!

  6. Funny how the bed’s placement in an open field makes it feel kinda creepy. It looks like Lenin should be in there.

  7. I thought of a Russian feel as well. Loved the poem and the thought of Snow White in a butter dish!

  8. Sue W says:

    Wow- I love that bed and poem! I would love to sleep in the bed, but then, in the open? Your poem was delightful. Another book in the making… Back to the bed. Yes, on cool September morning, I want to be in it. Without my specs, no one can see me, if you know what I mean.

  9. Iza Trapani says:

    Forget the bed. I love your poem! Beautiful, Cathy!

  10. Cathy….you are sooooo talented!!! I love your poem!

  11. fabulous punchy succinct poem, Cathy. What a great idea to use unusual art work as inspiration! I like the slightly sinister tone you took.

  12. LOVE your poem, Cathy – it is perfect for that bed! I’m with you on the Snow White thing! And no, I have never ironed a bed sheet in my life 🙂

  13. Cathy, I was just at the deCordova a few weeks ago! I love that place, and I LOVE your idea. I’m totally going to do that the next time I am there. My kids were fascinated by that bed. They were also enthralled with the installation of the battle scene with all the knights lying on the ground. Their hands-down favorite, though, are those trees that you can walk inside of and climb. I can’t remember the species but they are wonderful, living sculptures. Your poem is great. Haunting.

    • Great minds think alike, Carrie. My kids also spent FAR more time in those trees than actually looking at the sculpture park! The battle scene was good too – someone had left flowers in the arms of one of the fallen knights. Paul Matisse’s musical fence was their favorite though, lots of fun!

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