This is how we see the world.

            -René Magritte, 1938 lecture


There is a room where a man lies next

To a woman whose shoulders are lit

By morning. He wakes her to drift

Of clouds, wash of skies, drizzle

Of leaves in the air.  “Magritte,”

He says into her ear, tracing 

With a long slender finger,

A frame beyond the windowpane.


Another room in another time

Suddenly opens inside her.

She is standing by a window

Before the painting’s expanse of grass,

The cut of dirt road, and on the horizon

A stand of mountains measuring the reach

Of a single aspen. “La Condition Humaine,”

She turns to the man beside her,


As if to say she understood how inside

And outside the rooms of love

The landscape was not always seamless;

How, every time she turned her heart

Into an eye to invent with words the true form

Of being, dustmotes were already trapped

In the light of images, like this morning

Vanished fast into another day.


In no time they shall each be elsewhere.


Rene Magritte's La Condition Humaine

This painting is part of the collection of the National Gallery of Art located in Washington D.C. You can view "La Condition Humaine" by following this link: