I am going to eat it. Everything sparkles around the edges of my vision and yet the golden bug floating just beyond Minerva’s shoulder gleams as if each scale on its wing is lit separately by a thousand suns. It looks delicious.
I hold still. There is eternity and there is this pose. Minerva has the profundity of a goddess, exact in herself, exact in her consideration of the point the artist has given her, beyond the butterfly, beyond this second, through the portrait itself. She has an icon’s immobility, holding a pose for the painter standing on a scaffold. The butterfly has come into the impossible second Minerva has derived for the painter, too deep or wide for Chronus and his stuttering insistence on wax rounds, ticks, atomic decay. Everything is chopped fine in his salad universe.
Minerva has promised this painter immortality for a painting and she has granted it—this second in which time does not move, although the painter breathes and mixes his paints and slides that brush across the canvas. And now a gilded butterfly has come into eternity, which she is welcome to spend in my belly.
Can I allow a butterfly to shine brighter than Minerva? Wisdom overshadowed by gold? I cannot.