Rembrandt Etchings by Frederick Pollack

Color photo of leaves
Photograph by Frederick Wilbur



From however far away,
detail. The lovers, almost fully clothed,
amid bushes, her round blonde face
delighted, hopeful.
The returned Prodigal, kneeling,
embraced, exhausted – such
precision of apology and joy –
but seen by whom in the middle distance,
that fascinating distance you don’t notice?
A bystander, a passerby
who stops to take the scene in wholly.
As in Christ Presented to the People
so they may choose between the thief and him:
steps, platform, doorway, every window full,
spear-carriers, hangers-on, all known;
and Christ, thorned head down, looking
tired, as one does after a beating,
caught likewise by the moment, with nowhere to go.

Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness (Story Line Press; the former reissued 2022 by Red Hen Press), and three collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015), Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018), and The Beautiful Losses (Better Than Starbucks Books, forthcoming 2023). He has many other poems in print and online journals.

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