SHELBURNE, Vt. — I feel I know this rotund and anxious man. His name is Jack Tar. Without his boxy stand, he’s 3 feet 6 inches tall. His circumference at his widest point (that includes those brusquely jutting elbows) is a more than respectable 5 feet 10 inches.
Jack — maker unknown — is on display at the marvelous Shelburne Museum of Art in Vermont. I met him there in August, and have felt on friendly terms with him since.
I worry about him, to be honest. I look at those concerned eyes, that furrowed brow. He’s sort of mid-wince, isn’t he? Something troubles him.
He in turn, I feel, worries about me. He’s full of fellow-feeling, is Jack.
He dates back to 1860 or 1870 or thereabouts. He’s seen a lot, no question. But I suspect he isn’t entirely sure what to make of it all. He is a sailor, of course, and he has the expression, perhaps, of someone who has just come ashore. Maybe he’s struggling to find his land legs again? Queasy feeling. That could explain it.
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