What a face this girl possessed!—could I not gaze at it every day I would need to recreate it through painting, sculpture, or fatherhood until a second such face is born. Her face, at once innocent and feral, soft and wild! Her mouth voluptuous. Eyes deep as oceans, her eyes as wide as planets. I likened her to the slender Psyché and judged that the perfection of her face ennobled everything unclean around her: the dusty hems of her bunched-up skirt, the worn straps of her nightshirt; the blackened soles of her tiny bare feet, the coal-stained balcony bricks upon which she sat, and that dusty wrought-ironwork that framed her perch. All this and the pungent air!—almost foul, with so many odors. Ô, that and the spicy night! …Pungency, spice, filth and night, dust and light; all things dark did blossom in sight; flower and bloom, the night has its pearl too—the moon! And once a month it will make the face of this tender girl bloom.
I was surrounded by friends, my work was immense, and pleasures were abundant. Life, now, was unfolding before me, constantly and visibly, like the flowers of summer that drop fanlike petals on eternal soil. Overall, I was happiest to be alone; for it was then I was most aware of what I possessed. Free to look out over the rooftops of the city. Happy to be alone in the company of friends, the company of lovers and strangers. Everything, I decided, in this life, was pure pleasure.
It’s not that we have to quit
this life one day, but it’s how
many things we have to quit
all at once: music, laughter,
the physics of falling leaves,
automobiles, holding hands,
the scent of rain, the concept
of subway trains... if only one
could leave this life slowly!
It’s not that we have to quit this life one day, it’s how many things we have to quit all at once: holding hands, hotel rooms, music, the physics of falling leaves, vanilla and jasmine, poppies, smiling, anthills, the color of the sky, coffee and cashmere, literature, sparks and subway trains... If only one could leave this life slowly!