restricted access The Evening Star
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7 T h e E v e n i n g S t ar Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, 1864 [St. Louis Art Museum] She waves at the first star of evening, not herding sheep home for the night, not lighting a lamp to replace the last hint of sun. She stands still, her back against a young tree, while below her yellow spots on the canvas imply fireflies. Last night as the sky went milky, my brother talked about biking down to the river, staring at the stars, looking at one small, particular star that he’s tried to find on nights since. The search brings more pleasure than having something right in your face, he said. He pointed at an early firefly, which I couldn’t see until it lit again. Sometimes, you just have to wait, like when you see someone you know approaching: not sure at first, though the shape of his head seems right, and then the gait becomes familiar, and then that grace-filled moment when you both recognize the other and are not yet close enough to speak. Once, I had the pleasure of watching you look for me in a crowded room, your gaze passing over person after person until it stopped on me—I wanted simply to stay in your regard and took no steps towards you. Corot’s woman has her hand up as if to block the star’s meager brightness; it takes time for me to find the right spot on the canvas, the star itself. ...


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