The art wall

In the neighborhood, unadvertised, is a humble but high fence of painted brown wood. When I first passed it, two painted ceramic tablets hung there, shining in sunlight filtered through the trees, and a small sign declared: TO AVOID NEGATIVE KARMA, REPLACE ANYTHING YOU TAKE WITH AN OBJECT OF EQUAL OR GREATER AESTHETIC VALUE. Soon one tablet disappeared, then the other, and other orphans appeared in their place. Watercolors, oils, coloring book pages, some framed and some bared, melting in the rain, curling in the wind. One afternoon I offered a black-and-white horse from my pen, and looked to take in exchange. It was then that I realized that any piece there is, to me, of greater value than any I could offer: such art is not only art, but also a mystery, and mystery is a treasure beyond value, aesthetic or otherwise. Still, I took one, unsigned and aqueous, blue and green, a mystery in markers on laminated paper. I will take my chances with the karma.

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