The Servant-Girl at Emmaus (A Painting by Valázquez)
A Poem by Denise Levertov
“The Kitchen Maid with the Supper at Emmaus” by Diego Valázquez c.1620
The poet Denise Levertov was inspired by this painting to tell the story of the Servant Girl at Emmaus.
She listens, listens, holding her breath.
Surely that voice
is his—the one
who had looked at her, once,
across the crowd, as no one ever had looked?
Had seen her?
Had spoken as if to her?
Surely those hands were his,
taking the platter of bread from hers just now?
Hands he’d laid on the dying and made them well?
Surely that face—?
The man they’d crucified for sedition and blasphemy.
The man whose body disappeared from its tomb.
The man it was rumored now some women had seen this morning,
Those who had brought this stranger home to their table
don’t recognize yet with whom they sit.
But she in the kitchen,
absently touching the wine jug she’s to take in,
a young Black servant intently listening,
swings round and sees
the light around him
and is sure.
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