sputniks hail the autumn lawn while stars litter the sky without a word, although birds still steer by the pinups of the gods, constellations wearing nothing but seams. The ideogram sun seen in the trees becomes east, and we keep asterisks in the margin of the page, buttons on a coat we might open or close, as if my mother was wrong when she said memories are kind of hard to forget. In winter they turn white like dandelions, da Vinci’s perfect human body cartwheeling down the page with just one breath, which is why Dali had to invent the Aphrodisiac Jacket, black smoking jacket studded with shot glasses filled with crème de menthe so that passersby could take a drink: it’s the kind of coat the damned might wear at the bottom of Hell, where it’s always winter and the eye sockets of upturned faces become small cups in which their tears freeze. Leonardo finally believed that because the eye does not truly know the edge of any body, terror and desire are likely to be seen in the black chalk of sfumato—like the sway of a sauce when it’s finished with butter, or you in your scarves’ dark varnish. It’s what kept the damned from heaven: of all the sins, the hardest to give up was the memory of sin.
Fig. 1 Leonardo da Vinci, The Vitruvian Man, c. 1492, pen and brown ink, brush and brown wash over metalpoint on paper, 13 9/16 x 9 5/9 cm, inv. no 228, Accademia, Venice. (Scala / Art Resource, NY).