"Portrait of an African Slave Woman," attributed to Annibale Carracci, fragment of a larger painting, ca. 1580s
The darkest part of the shadow cast by a celestial body, and a root for umber, the color of earth, of melanin-blessed skin. A blessing, I call this, despite how we curse it in each other or ourselves. Without the cooling shade, we’d burn. Without earth- dark pigment, we’d have no ground for a painting; Carracci knew this in his bones. So I’ll plant myself in darkness—spotted as a trout bean, pale as a moon—hoping to grow strong enough to see my shadow when it occludes what’s otherwise clear: a shared reflection in an obsidian mirror.