Wednesday, April 16, 2014

each face in the street


By W.S. Merwin

for Wendell Berry

Each face in the street is a slice of bread
wandering on

somewhere in the light the true hunger
appears to be passing them by
they clutch

have they forgotten the pale caves
they dreamed of hiding in
their own caves
full of the waiting of their footprints
hung with the hollow marks of their groping
full of their sleep and their hiding

have they forgotten the ragged tunnels
they dreamed of following in out of the light
to hear step after step

the heart of bread
to be sustained by its dark breath
and emerge

to find themselves alone
before a wheat field
raising its radiance to the moon

One of my favourite paintings is Vermeer's The Milkmaid. (Detail of it below). Maybe because of the beauty of the bread, the dark breath of it. Maybe because of the expression on her face - which says so much, and yet holds secrets. Maybe it's the silence of the painting. Or the way I feel suddenly quiet, quieted, looking at it. 

If you'd like to spend a little time with some of Vermeer's work - the high resolution images here are pretty wonderful to zoom in and out of. 

Thinking, then, this morning, about how we sustain ourselves. About radiance. About those dreams we follow into and out of the light.


  1. Bread! Now that you've captured it's inner radiance, I hope you enjoyed devouring it to the very last crumb (there is a sad shortage of good crusty bread where I live so I invite you to eat more on my behalf). Thank you for the great Vermeer link. I think one of the things I love most about Vermeer (besides his technique) are the windows, so often open. But the bread, well there is spirit and breadth in that, too. Sigh. Have a lovely day, Shawna :)

    1. I've cried in front of a few Vermeers in my time :) And oh, I love bread....

  2. Every time I visit this site, I have such peace. I love the slow and beautiful I find here. I can't wait for my book!

    1. That makes me happy - that the peace I seek, can translate into peace for others. Thank you, dear Staci.

  3. So nice to be able to spend time here with you, your bread and Vermeer, a wonderful combo!

  4. Yes, perfect light, and is there anything better than bread?


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