Georges de Latour, "Magdalen with the Smoking Flame," c 1640-45
The pilot’s gone out. Once, twice, three times I try to get it to catch, the ticking piezo not helping. Low sideways glances confirm it’s time for a kitchen match, if I can find one in that drawer among the stabby clutter without cutting myself. A slow, measured exploration, the tips of my fingers listening for scattered match- sticks, my hand hidden—yes, there they are, two matches fished out and pinned between my index and middle fingers. I drag one across a bread stone—no spark, just a chemical smudge. Another match, faster strike and drag, and a blossom of flame unfurls, sparking the pilot too, its transparent blue streaked with iris. The light arrives first—the rising heat follows.