Les jeunes filles de Balthus

Les jeunes filles de Balthus

“The adolescent agitation of my young girls’ bodies reflects an ambiguous nocturnal light, along with a light from heaven.”
Balthus (Memoir)

In the closed rooms of a castle,
his nieces, neighbours’ daughters,
seduced into poses,
pretend to read, play at cards.
Shut away from the world,
they yawn, and nod, and fall asleep,
visited by dreams and a red flower.
But nothing happens.

Through endless afternoons
an adolescent knee,
one leg arched above the clinging panties,
nakedness sprawling to slippers,
their bodies suspended between
indifference and provocation.
An outsized cat sips its milk.
But nothing happens.

Then a skirted dwarf without gender
pulls the curtain and everything freezes.
The voyeur, robbed of desire,
steps back from the mirror,
his mind sculpted clean
by the grace of light.

Vision begins where the heart yields–
enticed by divine skill–to the mercy of beauty.


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