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(Vermeer’s The Little Street)

by Carol Ann Davis

Its sorrows fit          on the head of a pin           little street           its chore-doers

visible                            through open doors                    back courtyards            opening

the world there                                               unfolds, inheres                        and makes true

the sound of it         anyway         the milkmaid gone       to market                      the lady

with her list of orders                            bow your head             say you’re sorry into it

the holy person                   evaporated                   into air                   brick on brick

the solarium                   quiet            young marble-throwers                  bent to tasks

like counting             like spelling                  their names               or learning Latin

who’s to say                    where knowledge             becomes underhue             tests itself

and fades        its fine                    plain-weave linen       aglow                   the street

containing umber        a little chalk              and lead white                   the difference

between this                         and a sermon                       the level                          of doubt

the bent            figures                   their pentimento                            telling us

prayer is one           of many ways          to work                  and love                  like regret

is azurite                                   part cream                                                   part lead tin-yellow


Carol Ann Daviss first book, Feast Day Elegy, is due out from Tupelo Press in 2007. Recent work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Conduit, and The Southern Review. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where she directs the undergraduate creative writing program at The College of Charleston and edits Crazyhorse. (11/2006)

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