By Patricia A. McGoldrick

I am visiting Kitchener City Hall todayAnd my eyes are drawn to a mammoth work of art.Three metres by two metres, the rectangular opus beckons.The wide wooden frame with its welcoming canvas waves to meI cannot refuse the invitation but wander towards it and I see thatModern halogen lamps light up a buttery backdrop.The heart of the painting is warmed by a roomful of peopleA community of cultures and racesContentedly sitting on floor and chair.These people are dressed in earth tones of green and brown, some blues and some black.Happily, they areClapping hands and shaking tambourinesStrumming guitars and beating a bongo drum.Generations are mingling as elders share stories with the younger onesAnd I can see that the children’s dark brown eyes are tired but content at the end of day. As the blonde-haired child listens, she clutches her doll lest she fall asleep.Off in one cornerA rose poinsettia is fanning its blossomsWhile, in the distance, a smiling shadow of a woman in a green sariPeers around the open door.Does she want to come in?Is she curious about the small Cardinal-like Buddha sitting on the charcoal stones of a fireplace?Does she wonder the source of a sea shell on the mantel, how it was worn by waters far away? Is she gazing past the people to a sunbursting circle resting on the wall?She does not enter the doorway but smiles as though she belongs with the others– Apart,  yet they are all together!

*Poem inspired by the 1997 painting Collectivity by Bill Downey, then Artist-in-Residence, Kitchener, ON, Canada