is something of me that I am not.
start with, while we so wondrously
naked there together, I resisted this:
are not that, that is how we,
by custom, present ourselves.
I said, ‘in perfectly creased clothes
ironed by servants.’
you, with honeyed words and strokings
I most preferred to be stroked,
so persuade me ‘we’ll have ourselves eternalised,’
said, ‘and later on when we no longer live
will remain, though held apart
each our oval painting,
that was over from our bed – close by
I tried so hard to
still for that portait,
the fleas, just two or three,
beneath stiff collar and inside the dress
undisturbed – for I was still forbidden
make a move – burrowed
put it to myself that in the light
eternity three fleas would no longer
much damage. But
the two of us are long
dead and even the oil-
hung as pendants
by side, my husband’s oval
into a square and
by a distant museum –
all promises thus
separated nonetheless –
sometimes in my memory attempt
return to those days of posing.
were my thoughts, how did I sit
like that, how, as wife of
well-known brewer, did I stay
cool, so noble and elevated,
did I keep out of that portrait
we at nightime felt together?
even so I sat on pins
and pins what’s more that pricked.
This poem describes a picture at the Rijksmuseum. To see the portrait, go to here.