I’m wearing only my underpants and sitting in a window seat with my back to the Hassidic grocery across the street. It’s one in the afternoon and Misha is painting me. The embroidered cushion on which my backside rests was initially a comfort, but over the course of the past four hours, with the help of the midday sun, it has begun to feel like a very subtle instrument of torture. Inexplicably, it is itching me in a way I feel in my gut. There are those who spend their lives consciously or unconsciously courting such discomforts; I am not one of them. Something about Misha’s style makes him try to capture as much as possible of the final painting in the initial sitting, so I’m essentially on a 12-hour fourth-date semi-naked marathon. At first I thought this arrangement might be enlightening if not downright conducive to epiphanies—the endurance, the inner quiet, the lack of food. But thus far the experience is more sweaty than transcendent.

~This story may be read in its entirety in the Spring 2010 issue of The Kenyon Review.~ 


Alethea Black, © 2007-2018
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