Utterance by Francine Rubin

Inspired by the painting Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid, by Jan Vermeer

My lady spills her thoughts onto the page.
My thoughts remain untold, and I say few words:
“yes, ma’m,” “no, ma’m,” each syllable
revolving around the lady’s dictates.

Cold light spills through glass, illuminating
an undusted corner, a smudge on wood –
tasks for afternoon. I gaze outside:
red tulips. The impressive plot of land

to which I’m tethered at the periphery.
In evening, I am centered in my own scene –
one windowless room, one small bed,
no desk, no paper, no ink.

My thoughts spill in dreams of reclaiming
my time – one afternoon in fresh light,
wearing a red dress. I speak fluently
to passersby in a wild garden owned by no one.