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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 13: May 2022
Poem: 115 words
By Robbi Nester

The Missing Sense

In the last, lost painting of Rembrandt’s 
Common Senses, one that I imagine, three figures 
fill the frame, another medical scenario. 
In the center, someone spoons thick liquid 
into an old man’s mouth. The patient grimaces, 
bemused that anything reputed to be healing 
should inspire such disgust, while what he craves 
(hot rum, fatty joints of beef) will likely kill him. 
Beside him at the table, a small child gnaws 
a heel of bread, layered with sweet butter. 
He likes its heft, the crackle of the crust 
under his teeth. I share his pleasure, savoring 
the thought that an artifact of the imagination 
could reach us through the senses, make us dream. 


—From the poet’s book manuscript Picture This, which is available for publication.

Publisher’s Note:

To learn more about Rembrandt’s Senses series, the earliest known works by the artist, see the article “Rembrandt’s Senses, Expanded” (Scientific examination of a recently rediscovered Rembrandt reveals how—and why—it was altered 300 years ago) by Dominique Surh in The Iris (24 May 2016), the blog of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles (link retrieved on 16 May 2022):

Robbi Nester
Issue 13, May 2022

is the author of four books of poetry, including an ekphrastic chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and three collections: Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014). She has also edited three anthologies: The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014); Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees, which was published as a special issue of Poemeleon Journal; and The Plague Papers, recently published online at Poemeleon Journal.

Her poems, reviews, essays, and articles have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, including Aeolian Harp VI, Book of Matches, Cultural Daily, Gargoyle, Live Encounters, Muddy River Review, North of Oxford, Rhino, Tampa Review, Tiferet, Verdad, and Verse-Virtual. She is an elected member of the Academy of American Poets.

Author’s website: www.robbinester.net

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

After Blossom, ekphrastic poem after an etching by Phil Greenwood in MacQueen’s Quinterly (Issue 3, May 2020)

Three Poems by Robbi Nester in Verse-Virtual (January 2020)

Law of Attraction, ekphrastic poem after Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone, in Verse-Virtual (May 2019)

Night Tunnel, ekphrastic poem after a painting by Robert Rhodes, Philadelphia Night Train, in The Ekphrastic Review (21 April 2016)

The Locusts, ekphrastic poem after a collage of the same name by Mary Boxley Bullington, in The Ekphrastic Review (13 October 2015)

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