Instructions for Entering Rembrandt’s Landscape with trees, farm buildings and a tower (c.1651), by Jennifer Finstrom

Imagine that the world of the etching
isn’t as small as it seems; it will contain
what you bring with you. See how the area
around the trees and the little thatch-roofed building
is open and empty. A single fencepost casting
its shadow on the ground hints at the fact
that someone else was once here, but whoever
they were, they are gone now, and the little house
is vacant. Behind it, the lop-sided tower waits,
like history, to take you in, and if there is a past here,
there must also be a future. Follow your gaze
up past the tower’s disintegrating stones
where the etching seems to end. The sky there,
too, is vast, and at night will be an ancient pot
boiling with stars. You will want your trusted
constellations with you in the long rural darkness,
your hunting dogs and dark crow, the two shambling
bears to frighten away the wolves. As the frame
opens outward, you will smell the unharvested hay,
sheep calling as if they are lost, the wind
of another century. Trees take on color as you
step inside. The sky fills slowly up with blue.

 

Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 14, Issue 1.

Jennifer Finstrom has been the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine, an online literary quarterly, since October of 2005. Her work has appeared in several places, including Atlanta Review, RHINO, Wisconsin Review, and previously in Cider Press Review. She lives in Chicago, Illinois, where she has recently obtained an MA in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University.

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