I held her in my hand, her torso a tight triangle – a feminine geometry of bowed flesh. Her neck was white and bare, her legs covered in black cotton.
In my photograph she was black and white like a milkmaid, like a parlour maid, like a chambermaid – with ruffles that were starched from cap to hem. She had paused in her labors, on her way to barn, or fireplace or kitchen – unspoiled and immaculate while crossing those epic stages of grease and dust.
Her head was tilted to one side on her thick, middle-class neck. In an axis of inquiry her eyes looked up: above her solid body, beyond her weariness, past her restrictions and limitations. And over a century ago someone else had held her in their hand, sensed her question…for written across her apron were the words, "I wonder what the little stars are saying to each other."
Perhaps, when the galactic discussions were at last finished, the menageries of the sky grew silent. Perhaps one of the stars then fell to the earth, to whisper in her ear – taking pity on the winsome speculations of an unimportant girl.