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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 13: May 2022
Poem: 65 words
By Robbi Nester

The Witness

After Rembrandt’s A Pedlar Selling Spectacles
At the fair, a peddler approaches 
likely customers, a scene that might, 
in Rembrandt’s later paintings, be 
a bit of backdrop. The wife is nearly blind, 
already seeing better with her fingers 
than her eyes, her husband eager 
to believe a bit of glass and horn 
might work a miracle—he doesn’t 
catch the peddler’s smirk. 


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

A Pedlar Selling Spectacles: Painting (ca. 1624-25) by Rembrandt van Rijn
A Pedlar Selling Spectacles (An Allegory of the Sense of Sight)*

Original oil on panel (ca. 1624-25) by Dutch Golden Age painter
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) resides in Museum De Lakenhal
in the artist’s birthplace of Leiden in the Netherlands.

*Publisher’s Notes:

1. Details about the painting above are available in Rembrandt’s Four Earliest Paintings Reunited for the First Time at the Ashmolean (“Sensation: Rembrandt’s First Paintings”) at Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford (19 September 2016).

2. 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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