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2006-10-13

Belle da Costa Greene (b. Belle Marion Greener)
B. 12.13.1883 Alexandria / D. 5.10.1950 New York City
Retirement

This is the life.
Into the center of the Renzo Piano atrium at the remains of the Morgan Library strides a male quartet of probable or mixed Europeans. Their leader wears the deep tan of prosperity along with architect’s eyeglass frames the color of aged bone. The men take a table on the other side of the café.
This is the life.
On display in the Thaw Gallery of the Renzo Piano museum at the Morgan Library is a very famous gem-encrusted Gospel even more famed for the goldwork on its spine and covers; there are also quantities of pearls. It is over 1,300 years old.
This is the life.
Across the clouded rim of an empty dessert glass (a banana split fit a cool but sunny afternoon in the Renzo Piano atrium café which replaced the Morgan Library), there is a frontal view of one member of the lesser trio. Idly I count the angles in his courtier’s beard.
This is the life.
Between the covers of the gem-encrusted Gospel which beckons like a stuffed coelacanth through glass gallery doors to visitors of the Renzo Piano building on the site of the Morgan Library, there is something that resembles a closed and gilded phone book. Whatever it is, the presumption is it’s not original.
This is the life.
Without a tie between them, the slightly giddy quartet basks in the bright sunshine-y possibilities raised by the Renzo Piano victory over the Morgan Library. I say to my friend, all at once, “I don’t like men,” and we return to our contemplation of the Murray Hill skyline.

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