An Interior Scene Pieter de Hooch, Mother Lacing Her Bodice beside a Cradle, 1659-60

by D. H.

How lines structure these receding rooms –

their polished floors and divided halls –
is how light fractures in their passages.
Apertures divide the corridors:
every angle strung to a balanced hold.

A mother sits enclosed by the shade,
before a curtain fringed with copper light:
her hand poised, threading a lace,
over an empty cradle. The pictures on the walls
withdraw into their muted scenes.

She has not seen that the evening
is arriving, that the candle
on the table has burnt out.

Taken by symmetries, we wait
at the point of movement.
Her child in the distance,
in a flood of light – already gone
into the next room – drawn
by the open door, ready to depart.