In Rembrandt’s magnificent picture, The Old Woman Cutting Her Nails,
she sits in a comfortable way, not thinking of charm or guile,
just regarding the nail on her finger, which she carefully offers the knife.
A knife. Not a scissor for nails. Just a knife.
And her face, not her once beautiful but her now beautiful face,
in perfect concentration, is turned to the blade as it slices the nail
her other fingers curling in the gentle delicacy of her
not once beautiful but now beautiful hand.
And her hip nudges the pillow she will lay her head on in a moment or two,
when the last light is out and the thoughts moving slowly in her head
glide into dreams, and she thinks as they do… “That’s all right,”
in Rembrandt’s magnificent picture, The Old Woman Cutting Her Nails.
Alan Alda is an actor and writer.