No, not the Vermeer who painted a woman,
Head tilted into the light as she pours light
Into a milkbowl beside bread, not the Vermeer
Who painted the young woman you walk toward,
Her eyes wide, lips parted, because she wants you
To come closer so you can see yourself
In the shining globe of her earring dangling,
Not the Vermeer whose uncertain young woman
Dressed in red silk seeks your advice
About the wine a man urges her to drink
While brooding Temperance looks on.
Drink the wine, you say. But this isn’t about
The Vermeer of Delft. This is about
The Vermeer of Pella, Iowa, the Vermeer
Of trenchers and tree chippers and stump cutters,
The Vermeer of tub grinders and power mulchers,
Of hay balers and core saws and rock drills,
The Vermeer sitting yellow and abandoned,
Glistening beside the highway Sunday
As you speed past, the Vermeer on Monday
Hard at work when traffic stalls
And you crawl past close and she
Adjusts her hardhat and looks right at you
As the branch she releases becomes,
In this beatific morning light, dust.

That Vermeer.


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©M. L. Williams