Figure in a Room

On Vermeer’s Woman in Blue Reading a Letter

Daylight falls most lavishly
on brow, on clasping hands, and the curve
made by her soon-to-be-born child.
Her form is sheathed in silken blue and brown:
chiaroscuro of earth and sky.
The map with its umber veins, its cambered
gleam, backgrounds her upper body:
portrait within a portrait.
Today’s clouds
white-blue as the walls of her room,
slide over the glassed-in scene.
On her table,
a pearl necklace, the letter’s first page. She reads on,
brushed by reflections of muslin curtains,
their ghostly sway framing trunk and branches,
birds joining points on a leafy map.