…, to be the pouring of the milk.

Jan Vermeer, "Dienstmagd mit Milchkrug" (ca. 1658-60)
Jan Vermeer, „Dienstmagd mit Milchkrug“ (ca. 1658-60)

You know that milkmaid in Vermeer? Entirely absorbed / In the act of pouring a small stream of milk – / Shocking in the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague / To have seen how white it is, and alive, as seeing people / Reading their poetry or singing in a chorus, you think / You see the soul is an animal going about its business, / A squirrel, its coat sheening toward fall, stretching / Its body down a slim branch to gather one ripe haw / From a hawthorne, testing the branch with its weight, / Stilling as it sinks, then gingerly reaching out a paw. / There is nothing less ambivalent than animal attention / And so you honor it, admire it even, that her attention, / Turned away from you, is so alive, and you are melancholy / Nevertheless. It is best, of course, to be the one engaged / And being thought of, to be the pouring of the milk…

Robert Hass, „Art and Life“

Quelle: Fixpoetry, „Das Urvertrauen der Farbe“


Meditation at Lagunitas

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that,
talking this way, everything dissolves: justice,
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words, days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.

Robert Hass, “Praise”