The Lazy Maid

by James Manlow

chin snug in her palm,
her elbow plugged firmly
in the knobbly joint of her kneecap,
legs a little ajar
beneath her skirts, is sound
asleep upon the stool, dreaming
of her mother teaching her
how to scrape parsnips,
which is how at 11.10pm
the mistress of the house
discovers her, stares at her
a while, sighs, then, as if
almost sensing a stream
of watchers on, looks
up suddenly and comes alive,
flush with wine and mischief,
gifting that wry-wild look
I love this painting for,
saying, it’s too late for this,
and, see what I put up with?
How I adore this girl.
She won’t change. It’s 1655.
It’s late. Let the dishes
alone. Let the cat eat the fish.