The Girl Eating Oysters Stewart Florsheim

The Jewish Bride

          after the painting, The Jewish Bride
          (Rembrandt, 1667)

The man’s hands resolve into hers
as though this union started years before they meet
at the synagogue on the Judenbreestraat.
She is sixteen, he nineteen and his family
with the shipbuilding business in Rotterdam.
The marriage seems destined, the parents amazed
a Jewish couple can meet and fall in love
without an arrangement. Once the marriage
is announced, plans are made that will take years
to complete—the engagement party, wedding,
the new house on the Prinsengracht,
the portrait that can only be done by Rembrandt.
On the way to his studio they have their first argument—
his plans to go hunting twice a year with his friends
from the Gymnasium, boys she doesn’t like in the least
but even if she did she wants to be asked beforehand—
so when Rembrandt poses them the woman wonders
if she made a mistake, and the painter
captures that moment, the woman looking away
from her fiancé, unsure whether catching his gaze
she will call off all plans, or become the wife
who will forever be waiting for her husband’s return.


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