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in the sun, in the sun

...in the sun, in the sun,
when I am undone,
when I am no one.

The American poet Theodore Roethke wrote this, it's at the end of his poem "To A Young Wife." The sun is out again today, brightly, hotly, and I've just come from the Royal Art Museum in the Mauritshuis. Back from the 17th-century and not back ever at all. Yes, there were Jan Steen, Frans Hals, Rembrandts, Holbeins... not why I went.

Jan Vermeer, of course.

I wasn't prepared enough.

"Girl With A Pearl Earring", 1665.

I posted earlier about how much that portrait looks like Ki, or since Griet was there first, by 344 years, how much Ki looks like Griet. And I posted photos of them both, side by side, zij bij zij, as the Dutch say.

If you ever met Ki irl and spent any time with her, DO get to where this painting is. It sometimes travels but its home is here in den Haag. You will be as stunned as I was / am.

No copies of this portrait --- and there are hundreds of thousands --- can hold a candle to the original I embraced an hour ago.

She is alive and her eyes follow you around the room. Lots of art critics have said so. But you are right there with her. Totally true. Totally awesome.

The canvas is small and set in a deep gold ornate frame, protected by nonreflective glass and beautifully lighted with diffused lighting. She looks inviting and a bit wary of you at the same time. But her lips are ready to break into a quick small smile too. They've mounted her about at your eye level, at least at mine, so you see her face at the same level as yours (I'm about 5-11).

I've seen Ki give that look to others. Not the first time to me, it was 10:30 at night when we first met and we could feel each other's smiles through the evening and campus lights.

One of the things I hadn't realized till this afternoon is that, unlike almost all of Vermeer's other paintings, this one has a totally black background -- no interiors, no disappearing perspectives at all. That means that he wants to you focus completely on her face, to open yourself to her. It also means that you can imagine anything you want in the background he left for you --- he laid that down first and slowly created her likeness, layer by layer, beetje bij beetje [bit by bit], brought her to life in a style of portraiture that was only his own.

She's small, too -- maybe twenty inches vertical by 15 horizontal -- but there is no table or railing barrier in front of her so you can get right up as close as you wish. Or as close as you can stand.

That's what I mean when I say things like "Because she has never left."

This is another kind of dancing... dancing through time, this time, and all times. Altijd.

Blessings Be.

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