Rembrandt's First Emmaus
Begin at the tiny woman, attending in far left’s dark distant background. Always begin at any tiny woman, seemingly shrouded with inconsequence, because that tiny woman is probably the presence who makes everything else fall into place and flourish.
That tiny woman in the Rembrandt, haloed and thereby sacred in her ministrations, obvious source of the tabled silver. You’ll notice she leans forward now into her work, at the same angle the foregrounded Christ reclines, relaxed no doubt because of her and what she’s served. Christ and the woman sway together, even at a distance, making everything else possible.
The facing man canted opposite against them both, still of this world, as if counter-balancing, aghast, and knowing at last he’s never been in control, with his own astounded doubt that has always thrown him off-kilter. His gesture is almost fearful, hands nearly defensive. Is this then Cleopas from the Book? His dubious mouth and startled eyes?
And then, his friend from the journey, now become the adoring darkened supplicant, suddenly part of that shadowed obscurity that contains now all of the Christ.
Everything sweeping into that new-dimension dark miracle, the other-worlded shadow, the chin-whiskered, exuberant Christ, cast by unseen light that might be of His own creation. Tilted back, cast back playful, relieved at last of earthly burden, to enjoy at last the brilliance of a realized Being. Could this be? Rembrandt must have seen it when he painted. How the shadowed foreground has been newly transported from a realm somehow beyond his earth-bound palette.
And what is it of the slanted paneled wall so brilliant and un-cross-like in the light that knows to point beyond the crumbling stone — back and up to Heaven?
Harry Youtt is a frequently published poet, three times nominated for Pushcart Prizes. Since 1990 he has been teaching in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. Among his other accomplishments, Harry officially coined the phrase: Plain-speech Resonance Poetry. He is most proud of this.
The Ekphrastic Review
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