Leonardo’s Perfect Woman


Nothing had prepared her for the break of day. This is when dawn comes. The darkness of night is broken by the sun coming over the rooftops of neighboring houses. That is how people live. And she herself lived in a house over whose roof the sun must always break. She turned to her side but nothing but a row of pillows, one two three, lined up together, was there. This effigy. “Well,” she would have said this morning, “I am relieved to be without you.” After all, she knew that her nocturnal troubles, the ones that stirred her awake at 2 or 3 in the morning when he had been sleeping beside her, they had to have troubled him, in return. And his being troubled troubled her mind more. This day, however, she could stretch in her bed alone as she pleased. Had she wished, she could have kicked the line of pillows. Anywhere. Even that felt good. And another thing she had noticed: she wasn’t wearing earplugs. The birds outside hiding in the ivy and bricks were making their usual break of day racket. I don’t have to block you out anymore, all your easy restfulness, she thought to herself lying in her soft bed on her back. So, the plugs weren’t about the birds singing, after all, not exactly, or not completely, at any rate. Peggy knew she was feeling good about herself. She even had the temerity to wonder why Leonardo da Vinci had inscribed an outstretched man within a circle rather than a perfect woman.

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