The auction warehouse faces the museum:
Two empires, yet both entirely border,
Not territories, but stations of disorder
That separate the gallery and mausoleum.
Some strange topology maps out this frontier
Where guards are their own watchtower statuary;
Crates rise up; lives compacted rear
And spread their vertù diffused like a veneer
Over the masses swarming in the mortuary.
Crypt and mart to mutual rites deliver
All the same adherents on their best behavior;
Spotlights aim at niches of the savior —
Lifter of the spirit and the highest bidder.
And piled high with what the dead have left,
Next and next and next fill up emporia;
Expectancy alone is as good as euphoria,
And ignorant as good as never bereft.
NOTES for Students of English
Vertù – (Pronounced ver-TU) The quality of being beautiful, rare, or otherwise interesting to a collector; used in the phrase “objects of vertù.” The English spelling varies: vertu, vertù, vertú, virtu, virtù, virtú. The accent mark, rare in English spelling, indicates here that the stress is on the second syllable and that the word is not a typographical error for “virtue.” In the words of Scottish author Samuel Smiles (1812-1904): “The virtus or valor of the ancient Romans has characteristically degenerated into vertu, or a taste for knickknacks.”