Tuesday, June 14, 2016


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.

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