blackbirdonline journalSpring 2011  Vol. 10  No. 1
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Modest Interiors
Sequence Introduction

I am drawn to images of domestic spaces, in which courtyards and entrance halls frame the doorways to increasingly private quarters: a hallway narrowing, a broom closet, a woman folding linens. They suggest to me the intimacy of thought, the home as a metaphor for the mind, through whose doors—left carelessly ajar—we glimpse a self.

The seventeenth-century domestic interiors of Johannes Vermeer and Pieter de Hooch, with their shifting, filtered light, the slanting floorboards and off-kilter door frames, suggest to me the complexity of human experience, the way nothing—not cruelty, not joy, not love—is purely itself without shades of meaning. What do we see, after all, in the golden light of these living spaces: a woman, a child in her arms, an open window? Do we see intense private love? Fear of the dangers of a public sphere, just outside her window? Or do we see an entrapment, in which the most profound dangers lie behind the most private doors of the home?

In writing these poems, I tried to imagine a woman to life—and I won’t pretend she isn’t part me—a woman whose fluidity of thought we are privy to. What she leaves unsaid, what she leaves behind the closed doors of her own mind, we see in glimpses—in the crimson bleeding through the window pane, in the anger of her tone, and in her words’ multiple, shifting meanings.  end

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