On A Woman in Bed, c.1645 by Rembrandt
National Gallery of Scotland.
It’s five years now, I am set to spinning,
with the insane, vagabonds and whores,
locked up in the House of Correction
on the say-so of spiteful neighbours.
You remember that picture of Sarah
peeking through the bed curtain
to see if the devil will get Tobias?
That was me. In a night-gown,
a fruit bowl, the silver bled dull,
thrust upside-down on the top of my head.
Someone from the Good Book -
makes it Art, not just me.
I’ve seen devils: Rembrandt
creeping into my bed. Grief for his wife
did not stop his lust, though they say I’m coarse.
His breath was strong as herrings,
his lips clamped on my mouth. Wrestling with flesh
and sweat, raving into my breasts, my neck -
turning me about and about
till I’m dizzy with it. Who was mad then?
He promises to marry me. Then his head’s
turned by that slut, Hendrickje.
She’s in and I’m out, but before
the skin on my fingers splits, I’ll spin my revenge.