Maiden at the Stream
Hans v. Volkmann, 1889

Butler Pennsylvania 50

Selling the House

What will happen to the paintings
when the house is up for sale
and an auction's taking place?

Will strangers stand around
on hardwood floors
twisting scratches into varnished oak
as bids dislodge our silent storytellers
from walls they spoke from
through windows
they opened
on worlds we longed for
and dreamed about?

Ah, won't all those
hand-clasped chins thrown back
and judgment noddings
frighten our poor shy
Maiden at the Stream,
fetching water as she did
for us daily to watch
teaching us what beauty was
and what it meant for us?

Had ever a day passed
without our glancing up at her
gladdened by her being there
and being one of us?

Ah, won't we stand there sad
staring at hooks and nails
in empty faded rectangles and
regretting having let the paintings go,
won't we be taken aback
when feisty bargainers
stand sceptically inquiring
before making each prize their own,
then rushing off with it
heedless of the pain we suffered,
enthralled with their success?