“But her beauty remained”

July 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

But the small young naked woman? This childlike creature quite unaware of the dripping ruin which, behind her back, could only exaggerate her nakedness, her small size, her dripping skin? But even in the first glimpse he knew conclusively that she who was now splashing herself in the pleasure of natural privacy was the selfsame person whom he and Spapa had beaten into unconsciousness in La Violaine. He could not be mistaken: the very bruises that blurred his own elation in a flash of shame gave absolute identity to the young woman who had in fact survived the combat in the prison only to experience now that privilege of being herself in her skin. The black and blue welts were all too visible, the eye puffed shut gave him a stab of pain, in particulate he recoiled from a star-shaped bruise on the little haunch. She was disfigured, more so than he, and on her body bore the livid signs of his own righteousness. But her beauty remained: the freely hanging dark hair, the sun-darkened tan and pink complexion of the wet skin, the shocking symmetry of a body so small that in its childlike proportions it exceeded the beauty of the life-sized woman it was intended to represent: in all this his powers of recognition were even more confirmed than in the physical evidence of her injuries, the sight of which so offended, suddenly, his proud and sentimental eye.

— John Hawkes, The Passion Artist

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