Transcriptions: Writing

'Transcriptions: Writing' is a project inviting MA Creative Writing students from Birkbeck, University of London, to write a short fiction response to a National Gallery painting.

Batoni: 'Time orders Old Age to destroy Beauty'

Cynthia Medford Langley

Batoni, 'Time orders Old Age to destroy Beauty', 1746
Pompeo Girolamo Batoni: Time orders Old Age to destroy Beauty, 1746

You must look her in the eyes and see that she is jealous.
You must see that you are only frightened of what you do not know.
You must know that the force that is changing you has its own purpose.
You must recognise inevitability and let the cuts happen cleanly.

You must build something else up inside that the claws cannot reach.
You must form connections to others that the glass cannot sever.
You must look to the director of your destruction and investigate his wisdom.
You must decide that this progression is better than its alternative.

You will come to look like the destroyer.
You will grow to love the director of your destruction, because
You will realise that the roughing of smoothness is only the birth of substance.
Then, you will reach out one day for someone just like you.

But you will smile, and tell her not to be afraid.

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