The Girl Eating Oysters
after the painting, The Girl Eating Oysters
(Jan Steen, 1658-1660)
It is not this moment that matters:
the girl looking up, suddenly,
as she sprinkles pepper on an oyster
in the backroom of the oyster shop.
Her eyes say that she deserves this fare—
the oysters, already opened
lying neatly on the tablecloth,
the bread and screw of pepper on a silver platter,
a glass of white wine.
In a second, she will begin her feast
and already her body is tingling
even before she takes the first oyster in her mouth.
And as she takes the first,
she will anticipate the second,
then the third.
She will eat the last oysters quickly,
then rush out through the oyster shop
looking both ways before she leaves.
She will run down the cobblestone street,
up the narrow flight of stairs
and, ever so slowly, open
her lover’s front door.