Meeting up with friends at the Mauritshuis

Meeting up with friends at the Mauritshuis

Visiting the Mauritshuis,
my husband likes to race ahead
to see the girl
with the pearl
earring.

I prefer to watch each painting slyly
from the corner of my eye.

An awkward silence between old friends
You wonder what it is that they’re not saying.

And after I’ve examined every
petal of every flower
every insect
every cow
dog
peasant
fowl
to see what they’ve been up to,

I stand eye to eye with the killers and dreamers,
servants and saints.
The power of their gaze sets the air a-quiver.

Several of them could kill with a look.

Several did.

Athlete or invalid
the anonymous ones
applaud
the cold fury of the merchant
in black
that a painting so expensive should survive
without his name attached.

Then I climb the final staircase,
to catch my husband and the girl
with the pearl
earring.