The moon is a bleached marble the color of the Venus de Milo.
It gets so full of itself it breaks through whole centuries.
In this twenty-first one, I am called upstairs by my grandson Noah
to see the full moon over Paris. I tell him about the centuries
inside the marble, layers and streaks. How the sculptor studies
the grain. How even then it can break out of control. Jab the chisel
too far, it leaves a white bruise. Mystery is both cool and cruel,
I’m thinking, if you stay with it, as Noah and I do on the balcony
trying to take a picture that didn’t come out, that resisted us,
the way the Venus de Milo did in the afternoon, with her missing
arms, holding herself in, turning us back toward details. I explain
to Noah how rasps and rifflers are used for the final shaping. I explain
love and beauty in the language of work, what else is there to say?
why mention how much is free-fall—accident—the combination
of genes and skill that turn them to face each other like two mirrors
making their long corridor of escape? I just climb the 64 stairs
to the balcony, panting. I say it’s nothing. But then we step
into the dark and enter beauty, where there never was a foothold.
I might have told him that, but just then we were looking at the moon.
Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2013
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of BOA Editions LTD.