The woman I’ve been looking for my entire life.
Her name was Christine. She was thin lipped. Frail limbed. Not the least bit camera shy, as she pulled her shirt up to expose a breast, like she had fallen on the grass this way and the folds in her clothes rearranged themselves on her body.
Here she is on a horse in the night. Here she is, grim-faced, cradling her son. There was a scar on her neck from a suicide attempt years earlier, and through a series of photographs, you could see the scar heal.
For seven years she was married, before she successfully jumped to her death from the 9th floor of an apartment in East Berlin.
A blink in my eye, a snap of someone else’s shutter. A muse of flesh and blood. The Jane Birkin to Serge Gainsbourg. The Olga Ivinskaya to Boris Pasternak.
This is someone who understood his art, his morbidity, his need to capture her suicide in a frame, then publish the image of her body on the pavement, looking down from the 9th floor, along with insouciant pictures of a teacup, a playground, a tank, three plants.
And as soon as I had found her, she’s gone.
Should I be happy that she existed? Should I be sad that she’s gone? Should I be punished for comparing the women I’ve had to her?
Is this painful, or beautiful, or both?