DOVE AND DOVE

BY ANGELA SORBY

Cote d’Azure, 1981

Paloma Picasso stands on the high dive wearing a black maillot.
Below her, the photographer forgets the holy spirit’s ascension

as he plunges into concentration: Paloma is vital—her perfume flies
off shelves all over France. Above the photographer’s bent head

a moth unspools its thirty hours of life, extending them unconsciously
until the patio and pool approach immortality. But the sun’s

having none such truck: it sails past, a thrown hat, its arc so fast
the photographer curses. Just out of earshot, a girl in a chador

examines her own knee and remembers how the snow in the Pyrenees
—snow she’s never seen—flies skyward when the wind is right,

as if everything could gather, at last, in Allah’s palm. The photographer
rubs his eyes and thinks about lunch, bread rising, oranges overheating

and falling from a tree in his backyard, how his wife undoes her hair
as she works in the kitchen. She’s over fifty, no Paloma,

and yet his mouth waters as he pictures sweat beading on her shoulders,
ready to roll down her back. Then Paloma dives into the pool,

a pool so neutral, so germ-free, it’s what her father swore heaven
(a place he reviled) would be. “But I’m alive,” she said at age five,

lifting her arms as he pushed past on his way to the beach,
where he painted, not the sun, but stronger light: the bright black line

where sea meets sky, where navigators lose themselves at night.
“But I’m alive,” Paloma repeats now, changing from crawl to butterfly,

as if she could lift herself eye-level with her father. But no: there’s just
the photographer, who, like everyone (so she forgives him) has failed

to capture her.