Venus de Milo

by Fleda Brown
Brown. No Need of Sympathy. Venus de Milo
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.