a woman peeling apples, with a small child

straight off the blade she hands 

it over her small hand the long peel for divination
the long peel hissing like a boa constrictor         how long 
it must take to dress the daughter in all of her
gathers & kirtles & caps 

her pinafore pockets full of oyster shells yes

what she can't see     what hurts her eyes          & like a genre painting I'll include

the image of another             painting or         a mirror
or a dog           
                  how Vermeer preferred women working alone
                                        how this also      uses natural light in an otherwise unlit interior

when the old woman peels apples she's surrounded 

by circles & keeps         her book in good light             & when 
she is young it's a rich   brocade              steady hands 

a hairband & a little jut of thought in her jaw                           (see also dutch        quiet   )

Copyright © 2014 by Pattie McCarthy. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on February 13, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.