Some Writings From Gallery Sittings

By Regina Bartkoff


12 years old
April 2010 – June 14, 2022

How I loved Francine. How we loved her. 
She was so big and soft and strong. So wonderful to pick up.
To see her funny face. 
To see her run. 
To see her roll around on the ground. 
To see her fight with Audrey. 

Francine died on June 14, 2022
I hate even writing these words. 
We can’t believe she is gone. 
Her big heart gave out. 
She didn’t suffer long.
Little Audrey is confused left here. We try to give her a lot of love. 
She goes outside for the first time by herself. 
I feel so proud of her but I know she is just looking for Francine. 

Francine gone. 
A being in your life leaves. 
As your life is still here. But your daily life is not the same and yet you continue on.
You cry
You laugh
You remember 
But she is gone. 
That bright being that gave us so much joy and love.

Such a good spirit. 
The days get warmer. 
You hang art on the walls.

Our furry friend is gone.
“Nothing can ever happen to Francine.”
But she died. 
She got sick.
Francine left so unexpectedly!
My buddy in the garden is gone!
All the excitement went out of the room
The air was dull and grey

We showed her all our love and helped her pass into the next realm with minimal suffering.

All of a sudden beings in your universe leave.
The good and the bad.
It’s undeniably great when a bad spirit goes.
My little sister says she now understands
why people pray for peace.
I pray and give thanks to God and my mother and father and Charlie and Hannah and Greg and all the family and friends and people all over

The downtrodden walk by every day out here on East 3rd street
A parade of misfortune
While I do gallery hours.
I wonder about so much
I want to go to Coney Island
I want to see Hannah and her baby
I want to go away
The dead feeling is falling off
A heavy weight lifts


Worried about Hannah in Hawaii
She comes home today
Gallery hours, gloomy. 
The future looks bright for Hannah
And me and Charlie will be ok
I’m just  lucky to be alive and well, so far
Go to Coney Island soon

Time passes
The dead move on
The world goes on and the world really doesn’t care
So what?


Summer is here and coming on strong.
My favorite season. But there is a deep melancholy in the air.
The Post(woman) says hello to me as she brings the mail.
A young black woman about thirty. So gracious. And she says have a good day. But the melancholy persists. 
A sadness
Thinking of past summers growing up with my little sister
And Francine is gone. 
There’s a sadness
But no going back

Gallery Hours resume again. 
Getting the old bad spirits out of the house
A melancholy summer
A little lost in the fog
Drifting on a chemo cloud
Some fog needed to face a harsh reality
Watching the world go by outside on East 3rd Street between C&D
Summer is finally here, coming on strong.


The light is on in my little pink room but it’s still dark outside, 
The curtain is always closed
I sit here hunched where I have coffee, and sit in a fog.
I watch tv, eat, drink, all in this one dark spot
in a candy-colored pink room
Finally make an appointment with the gynecologist 

There was a sadness I can’t even put in words
Francine is gone
And life goes on. 
The sadness remains.
The house is so quiet with Francine gone. 
She’ll never come back! 
My Francine!
How we love her!

It’s finally summer, lying heavy on this street.
The heat starts to come on, longer days, sorrowful summer.
The girl in the wheelchair with one skinny wasted leg sticking out rolls past me pumping with that one leg. Looks at me. Wild eyes. She’s talking nonsense.  I can’t make heads or tails of it. All I see are no teeth and broken teeth.

The afternoon wanes on. People going places. People in a hurry. People out for a stroll. People limping by. 
A holiday weekend, the 4th of July.
Hannah’s 38th birthday and she is about 35 weeks pregnant.
There is a green garden across the street, open for everyone. 

Today the streets reminded me of when I went to Mississippi once,
with Charlie, to see him in a Tennessee Williams play. I waited for him during rehearsals by walking the streets of Mississippi. Big, old, beautiful white mansions. Heavy oppressive sun.

Someone from the play asked me if I wanted to see “the other side of the tracks.” I said yes, and he literally drove me across train tracks to the poor side of town. Everyone was black and everyone was outside as opposed to the silent empty streets of the well-to-do. Here the homes looked cheaply made and they were ugly and looked like prisons.

A black hole
Nothing left but her collar. 
We couldn’t afford to buy her ashes. 
They sent us a sympathy card, a very nice one
with lots of comments from all the people who worked there.

The girl in the wheelchair is back.
She is filthy.
She’s talking and pointing fingers at me.
She starts smoking her crack pipe.
The woman who lives next door
in Henry Street Settlement screams out,
“I’m gonna call the cops right now!”
Wheelchair girl takes off immediately,
pumping hard with that one wasted leg. 
I know her family lives right here and has always tried to help.
It’s hard to guess her age but she is still young.
Maybe Puerto Rican, and I can see she could have once been beautiful
I wondered what happened to her leg.

Summer is here.
My favorite season.
I will honor it by going to Coney Island.