(to Balzac after Paul-Cesar Heller’s Standing Woman with Red Hair)
Walking through the park, I came upon a hideous hag, all bent over and scarred.
She wore a red carabin beauty mark on her cheek, which I recall having seen before.
“Carabin?” I enquired gently leaning over with great pity for the wretched thing.
“No,” came the firm reply, “Carabin is no more. This is all her beauty has left me.”
Ten years ago, Carabin was the prettiest cortesan in Paris, this beauty mark her chevron.
I hurried home, too shocked even to think to leave a few coins in her basket.
Now I am the finest courtesan in Paris. I looked over my shoulder at her.
The pigeons, surrounding her frail body, were waiting to pick at her flesh.