Editors’ Choice, June 15-21, “Rembrandt’s Woman Bathing (1654),” by Carol Henrikson

(We were unable to produce a video reading of this piece. However, the subject of this ekphrastic poem appears below.) 

Good art tells a story. Great art suggests them, inviting the receiver to interpret. And so it goes with this suspenseful piece by Carol Henrikson. Together, the painting and the poem build to a crescendo of drama.


In darkness at the water’s edge,
Hendrickje drops
her heavy dress
behind her on
the bank, and glowing
in a white chemise,
her hair pulled loosely back,
steps in.  The light
that lights her face,
the cloth, her sturdy
body, in this moment
of imbalance, perfect grace,
seems not to shine
from any outer source —
is not the moon’s —
but seems to come
from Rembrandt knowing,
painting her as
she looks down
into the water, gazes
through to something
in that shimmering,
that darkness,
with a smile
that’s almost
imperceptible: Hendrickje
secretly is carrying their child.

New HenriksonCarol Henrikson lives in Vermont, writes, paints has taught poetry classes at the Montpelier Senior Center, and has worked as a personal care assistant for the elderly, presently works in the Vt. College of Fine Arts bookstore. She has published in some places – Georgia Review, Southern Humanities review, Bloodroot, Clover, Vermont Magazine; has a (long ago) VT Council on the Arts competition-co-winner chapbook called The Well and a self-published one (2014) titled Knowing Nothing About Gypsies, done by Outlaw Artist’s Press in Price, Utah. 

To read earlier Editors’ Choices from Issue 9, please visit:
Pastoral – Kevin Rippin
Red Wallpaper – Ron Burch
Ravenous – Tom Laichas
Still Life as Poem #2 – Michael Dwayne Smith

6 thoughts on “Editors’ Choice, June 15-21, “Rembrandt’s Woman Bathing (1654),” by Carol Henrikson

  1. Yes, that was a rather sweeping generalisation, wasn’t it? It rules out Whitman, Frost and Ginsberg, to name a few! But I was thinking of that group (early 20th century, Williams certainly, and harking back a little to Pound) who created lovely limpid images (think of that red wheelbarrow, Pound’s Metro) and left the reader to gather the implications. Modernism essentially, but it seems to me to have been more prevalent in America than in Britain where the mainstream (Auden, Spender, MacNeice) were altogether more polemical.

    All of which leaves me to say that it’s just those qualities (the limpid surface, the lurking meaning) which I found and enjoyed on Michael’s poem.


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