After Vermeer’s A Maid Asleep

By Allison Albino

At last alone, she sinks into

the leather chair, rests her head

on her palm. Yawns, reaches


for the jug of wine, shakes it.

There’s at least a glass left.

Luxuriously, she takes a swig.


On the table is an abandoned

plum. She bites in, lets the juice

run down the sides of her mouth,


slurps sweet, wipes her mouth

with the tablecloth she will later

wash. The late afternoon sun


lullabies her. No need to shut

the door. There was a man

at that door, watching from the next


room, hearing her bite into flesh,

yawn, gulp, burp even, envious

of the light on her cheek. Vermeer


erased him and his dog, left her in peace,

left the space between her solitude

and the door, his absence still a presence


like most lost loves who wind whisper

between this room and the next.

My father could feel my mother’s


foot touch his, under the blanket,

weeks after she died, a visit

he didn’t seem to mind


but that kept me up for months

waiting for my turn — a secret

knock, a phone call with no one


at the other end, a note, a something.

I couldn’t help but nod off,

and I’d dream that the trees spoke,


the moon had eyes, all the coded

prayers in old shoeboxes, their trail

at my door, breathing, waiting, watching,

dog, cats, mother, lover,


murmuring: it’s okay to let go.

It’s okay to let go.

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