Botticelli’s women are always beautiful.

I once knew a girl who had fair and glowing skin. She wasn’t like me; she looked nothing like me. Her delicate features sloped in blurred, unassuming lines. Welcoming. Peaceful. They commanded the eyes to follow. She had golden-brown hair, with the kind of curls you don’t expect to be smooth and soft to touch. But they were. Or I assume they were. I never had the courage to know.

And there was a permanent blush to her cheeks; a product, perhaps, of a body not built for harsh weather. Of anything else I have nothing to say. Her laughter was fine, her words easily forgettable. I can’t even remember her name.

Yet to me she looked like Botticelli’s women, robed with two-dimensional grace and picturesque beauty. And even at her most alive it felt like she was only moving in a suspended narrative, a portrait that I was too close to appreciate. Or too far.

Words of worship are not normally confessed, I admit. But I did. In passing and in idle conversation, offering my soul with far less grace and facility. I suppose I should have known; the Venuses of the world do not take up with women like me.

Sandro Botticelli, Nascita di Venere (mid-1480s)
Sandro Botticelli, Nascita di Venere (mid-1480s)


(Either to love or to command.)

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